Happiness is relative.
Each one of us has a different idea of what happiness is and how to achieve it. Some people believe happiness comes from the company of loved ones and for others, it’s following their passion. But is there a universal factor that makes us happy?
It turns out there are many factors that affect your happiness level for the day.
Here are 8 influences that you may not even know are contributing to your overall happiness:
1. Weather influences your emotions
People living in the temperate climate are considered to be more cheerful.
According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Biometeorology, the health threat of cold days is greater and more serious.
One affliction that is brought about by cold weather is Seasonal Affective Disorder or Winter Depression. As the name states, it is a mood disorder that happens every year. The symptoms come out in fall or winter and end in spring or early summer. The sufferers are particularly sensitive to the lack of light which makes living in colder climates a challenge. The symptoms include less energy, lack of focus, fatigue, greater appetite, increased desire to be alone, greater need for sleep, and weight gain.
People living in areas prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and tsunamis are also at high risk of physical, mental and emotional stress. A 2011 report from the National Wildlife Federation states that global warming can cause significant psychological, emotional, and public mental health implications in the U.S.
And if you’re feeling crummy already, a cold day can easily make your mood go from bad to worse! A study was published stating that temperature, wind, and sunlight have an effect on negative mood. For example, the researchers found that increased wind and decreased sunlight had a mostly negative effect on negative mood.
Another study suggesting weather affects our emotions is the finding that suicides are more common in the late spring and early summer months. It states that sunshine and higher temperatures could be related to suicidal thoughts and higher suicide rates.
2. Flowers make you happy
Research found that when you smell a flower, it can create a positive influence on your emotions. This phenomenon is dubbed as “flower power” and causes positive emotions, which in turn makes the person a positive person.
According to Jeannette Haviland-Jones, director of the Emotions Laboratory at Rutgers University, flowers have developed little chemical factories. These chemicals decrease anxiety and improve our moods.
They conducted a study and found that women who were given flowers all smiled with true enjoyment. This smile has been linked to positive emotion and related changes in the brain. On the other hand, the women who were given candles as gifts did not smile the “Duchenne smile”.
Haviland-Jones’ team conducted another flower study and found that the more flowers the older adults received, the happier they were. Additionally, those who got flowers performed much better in memory tests than those who did not get flowers.
3. Listening to upbeat music can make you happy
A study showed that listening to positive music is an effective way to improve happiness, particularly when it is combined with the intention to become happier.
In this study, participants were assigned to try to boost their mood while listening to 12 minutes of music reported a more positive mood. It also suggests that one’s “will” to become happier is important if you want to be happy.
Listening to music every day could benefit us if the music has a fast tempo, harmonious structure, and major keys.
4. Age grows with happiness
It seems that the older you get, the happier you are according to a 2013 Harris poll. Those 50 and older are more likely to be very happy compared to their younger counterparts.
The Harris Happiness Index is calculated through a poll asking Americans if they agree or disagree with a list of statements, some positive and others negative. Those who say they strongly agree with all of the positive statements are considered very happy.
5. Happiness is contagious
According to a new study about happiness, the more happy people you know, the more likely you are yourself to be happy.
Also, people with the most social connections including friends, neighbors, and relatives — were also the happiest. This suggests that each additional happy person makes you happier. If your friend is happy, it increases the likelihood that you are happy by 15 percent.
The researchers also stated that happiness has an important effect on reduced mortality, pain reduction, and improved heart health. With this data, it can help us learn how to promote a healthier society
6. Pets can make you happy
Oxytocin is the name of the hormone associated with happiness. When you pet your furry friends, it releases this “feel-good chemical” thus making you happy.
A study found that there is a link between dog ownership and decreased risk of depression. This research shows that single adults and women are less likely to get depressed if they have a pet.
7. Weekends make you happier
A study shows that happiness spikes on weekends and drops when the work week begins.It seems that the term “Monday blues” is scientifically true.
Researchers also found that emotional well-being rises by about 15 percent on weekends. On weekends, there is more positive emotions like happiness and enjoyment, and fewer negative emotions like stress, anger and sadness.
Moreover, the unemployed also gets about 75 percent of the boost in well-being on weekends.
8. Exercise helps create a positive mood
Are you having a bad day? Research says exercise is the cure.
According to a study, exercise can make you happy in just 20 minutes. This research shows that physical activity can have a subtle, positive mood benefit that can last as long as 12 hours. Science says that exercise engages neurons in the brain which de-stresses it and creates a positive mood.
According to a scientific study, roughly 40 percent of our happiness is within our control. Now, it is up to us to take charge.