If It Makes You Happy…
Remember that song by Sheryl Crow? It was one of those songs where the underlying message was that whatever she was singing about didn’t really make the person that happy.
What makes you happy?
If you ask most people what they want in life they will respond that just want ‘to be happy’. Yet they have no idea what happiness means to them. Thought to ponder: if you don’t know what it means how will you know when you have it?
From birth and based on an early age experiences, we develop a happiness ‘set point’. That means that we are shaped by people and experiences that then determine our lifetime level of happiness. Most people are unaware of this.
The set point means that no matter what life throws at you – something great – job promotion, new house, holiday, even winning the lottery, or something dreadful, loss of a job, illness, loss of a relationship, we will be respectively up or down for a period of time (between 3-6 months) but we then default back to our ‘set point’ of happiness. This is one reason why lottery winners aren’t the happiest people on the planet.
…So now what, are we all stuck with a limited amount of happiness?
No way! In the emergent field of positive psychology there is loads of evidence to show that engagement is particular activities will result in an increased level of happiness.
What are these activities, I hear you cry? Hang on! I was just going to tell you. But I am going to tell you one blog post at a time.
Today the topic is physical health. How will this contribute to happiness?
Physical activity has a profound effect on our happiness. The impact is both immediate and long term. The immediate impact is that when you begin an exercise sessions (something that makes you a bit breathless and challenges you beyond your normal activity for at least 20 minutes) you’ll get the benefit of the release of endorphin – ‘feel good hormone’ which peak around 30 minutes after activity has started.
The endorphin rush will taper off over a period of time – there are many factors to consider but the high can last for minutes, hours or days. Typically, using a mixture of weights and cardiovascular exercises is enough to kick start the body. It is a very individual thing. What known though, is that exercise can help alleviate depression and the longer term effects of a continued program include improved muscle tone and strength and coupled with a healthy diet, there is likely to be an element of weight reduction.
The most important things about commencing an exercise program
1. choose something you enjoy
2. don’t be afraid to admit if you get bored, just try something else
3. stick to it. Just like you can’t brush your teeth just ONCE and expect good dental health, you can’t exercise just once and expect a good result. Stick to it. Make it part of your life.
4. Find a fitness buddy to make it a social activity and build in accountability to make sure you stick to it.
5. Despite any new found enthusiasm, if you are unaccustomed to exercise, start slow and build up or you’ll risk injury
In the next blog: Eating Well for Happiness