How Happy Are You Really?
Dr. Susan Slipacoff, ND
Happiness truly does come from within, and the science of happiness has found consistent patterns in people who live their lives with joy. Consider the following questions, are there any areas you could improve upon to lead a more joyful life?
1. Is your gut happy?
When we say happiness starts from within, we mean it literally. More research is finding that our gut bacteria has a profound influence on our moods. Researchers call this dynamic the “gut-brain-axis”. When our gut is inflamed, we can experience increased levels of anxiety and depression. Some simple dietary changes can improve your gut health and your mood including high-fibre whole foods, foods with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, and fermented foods.
2. Are you around other happy people?
With the many concerns currently present regarding coming down with infections like COVID-19, why not focus on catching something positive like a good mood? Especially considering that it will have such a positive impact on your immune system. One study found that happiness can go viral. In other words, being around people who are upbeat and feel good about their lives can impact your own happiness levels.
3. Do you get a regular dose of Vitamin N (for nature)?
Spending time in natural environments boosts happiness levels in several ways. Interestingly, this effect has been shown to be stronger in women than men, and stronger in older adults than their younger counterparts.
4. Are you balancing movement and rest?
You probably know that exercise releases feel-good endorphins that improve your mood. However, you may not realize that you don’t have to make a big commitment to fitness to feel the impact of movement. One study found that it only takes 20 minutes of walking outside to experience a boost in your mood. However, it’s important to note that rest is just as important as exercise. The effect of sleep on our brain helps us to focus on the positive and being sleep-deprived makes us more sensitive to negative emotions.
5. Do you help others?
Acts of kindness are another way that happiness spreads. By making others happy, you can feel happier as well. Doing something nice for someone else, whether it’s donating to charity, volunteering your time, or simply holding the door for an elderly person, also makes us feel better about ourselves.
6. Can you forgive?
Forgiving others may ultimately be a kindness to yourself. By practising forgiveness, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily let bad behaviour slide or that you turn into a pushover. It is still important to set healthy boundaries within your relationships. Also good to know that focusing on letting go of resentment and anger can lead to multiple physical and emotional benefits.
7. Are you grateful?
Being grateful for what we have also increases happiness levels. I often recommend for my patients to think about 5 things they are grateful for on a daily basis. This way they can begin to focus more on the positive in their life and less on the negative things that may be beyond their control.
How did you do?
As you can see, living life happily requires a conscious and holistic approach. So as a reminder not only today but every day, take some time to appreciate the gifts of life and reflect on the things that matter most. You won’t regret it.
I hope you enjoyed this article!
Please reach out if you need support.
Dr. Susan Slipacoff, ND
Clinic Founder, Naturopathic Doctor,
Bioidentical Hormone and IV Therapy Practitioner