Aren’t we all due for a reset after this crazy year? Join us in planning for our 2021 year with a happiness reset challenge. Where we will set out on a 12 month journey researching & practicing happiness (with freebies!)…
As a Data-Analyst+food blogger, I’m on a journey to find you recipes for happiness so that you can enjoy an increased quality of life from the inside out.
We finally made the decision to go on this dedicated happiness journey with our followers, because we ourselves wanted to improve our happiness after such a tumultuous year. From COVID to the election, there were so many different aspects of our year that we found to be gloomy or depressing. I swear we ran through every emotion.
We decided to take back our happiness and not just start the new year fresh, but find a better way to deal with the unknown. With my husband’s problem solving and fact checking skills, paired with my analysis, psychology and nutrition skills we wanted to try and build a happiness framework to not just research happiness but implement it, make note of it, and then improve it. More about our background can be found here.
We embarked on a journey and wanted to share with you what we’ve researched over the years and what we’ve found to be the best ways to help find happiness in our everyday lives. What changes we could make in our daily routines that would allow us to be happier. We made ourselves the guinea pigs! Latest research suggests that happiness is not a goal to be achieved but an ongoing practice. We want to be here for you to help set you up with tools to practice…happiness!
We document what we try, what works for us and share that with all of you through newsletters and challenges. This led us to discovering research on nutrition, physical, mental, and spiritual activities (our new framework) that we could incorporate into our day, all backed by science. These recipes for happiness are something that we found to be of real value and our hope is that we make someone’s day just a little happier and then they can pay it forward. Setting off a chain reaction where we are all just a little happier than we are in this moment. That is our hope for the future.
The Benefits: Studies have shown there are measurable advantages you can receive by being a happy person.
- Makes you a healthier person. You tend to eat healthier (1), you go to doctor and dentist checkups and you know that some kind of movement will keep you healthy, like walking or jogging (2).
- Improves your immune system. Some studies show that when given a cold or virus, happy people are 2 to 3 times likelier to not get sick (3). This is also tied to the fact that they may be slightly healthier than an unhappy person.
- Reduces stress levels. When people stress out, they see a rise in cortisol levels. Happy people have less of this stress hormone by almost 20% (4).
- Promotes a healthy heart. Happiness helps to reduce blood pressure which protects the heart in some cases by up to 22% (5).
- Leads to a longer life! It only makes sense that if you are a healthy person (6), and that builds your immune system, and you have reduced stress, and your heart is in good shape you will live longer (7).
- Can reduce pain. Positive emotions play a role in feeling pain, the theory is that positive emotions help broaden perspective, encourage new thoughts, and create new ideas thereby allowing one to better handle pain (8).
- Helps make you smarter. Negativity is a distraction, without it, it allows you to focus on the problem leading to a better decision and more quickly solving the problem (9).
- Improves productivity. Unhappy people can be 10% less productive while happy people tend to be 12% more productive (10).
- Improves relationships. Happier people are more engaged in their relationships causing an increase in happiness around them (11).
- Could help you earn more. Studies have shown that in some cases it will help you earn more because you are happier, healthier, and more even keeled (12).
The problem we all face:
Now to take a moment to discuss the opposite of Happiness. It is reported that 40% of the U.S. reported struggling with mental health issues during COVID as of June 2020 (13). That includes anxiety, depression and in some cases suicide (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255). It is just a vicious cycle of bad feelings. This is added to the fact that as a country the U.S. already was on a decline regarding mental health issues before 2020 (14). While I realize that not everyone can just decide to not have anxiety, be depressed or have feelings of loneliness. I believe we all are searching for a better way to cope with the unknown and this framework may help.
The Solution (Our Framework):
Our framework covers four important aspects that can have a beneficial impact on your well-being and bring you to a happier place starting from the inside out. There are internal factors and external factors that will lead to happiness. Internal factors include nutrition, physical, mental and spiritual. External factors include environmental, social, financial, and occupational.
In the future, we may take on these external factors as they do contribute to happiness, but we will not be focusing on these this year. I am a true believer in that saying about how you must take care of yourself first before you can be of help to others. For example, when you ride on an airplane, they tell you to secure your mask first so that you can breathe and then help the person next to you. This applies here as well.
From a holistic standpoint there have been nutrients in the way of herbs, vegetables, fruits and some animals that have been linked to causing certain reactions in the brain. A commonly known example is serotonin and chocolate (15). Also, certain nutrients added to your daily meals over a long period of time have shown to have positive affects as well (16). The reverse is also true. There have been links between certain foods and an increase in depression and anxiety (17). For the purpose of this blog, we will be taking a deep dive into some of these things, but I want to encourage us to love ourselves as well. So, no fast and quick diets here. This is a practice.
You guys, I tried. I promise, I tried to find anything out there that said we could sit on the couch and watch Netflix for the rest of our lives and that would lead us to happiness nirvana. But I just couldn’t find any research to support this lifestyle. However, it also doesn’t mean we need to go run a marathon tomorrow. On the second week of every month we will highlight something involving sleep, exercise, and or stretching. After all we do want those feel-good endorphins (18), right?
This one is a bit tricky because it covers such a wide variety of what brings about happiness and also can be the toughest to master. It really is all about mental attitude! However, practice makes perfect. So, we will stick with things that we have actually tried that we know work for us. The third week of every month will include activities such as journaling, deep breathing, self-care activities, meditation and reading.
Spiritual well-being is an important part of your happiness journey. It means you take the time to look inside yourself and find out what is your higher purpose in life, or what you are passionate about? Are you doing the right thing? Some people find this in organized religion and others in meditation or yoga. Or sometimes both! Recent studies have also shown that connectedness with community, spending time in nature or appreciating the arts, like music or theatre bring about the same feelings (19). All things we will explore on the last week of the month.
This is a reset CHALLENGE right?
Correct! We will also be sending out various challenges each week to practice what we’ve learned straight to your inbox, so make sure you are subscribed and share with friends. While we want you to find what works for you, we encourage you to try a little of everything and join our community on Facebook to share in all the fun. We created a Facebook group just for the challenges and to create a positive environment as we grow. We also encourage you to keep practicing those challenges even long after they’ve ended.
Our first Challenge will start January 3rd. See you then!
What about those freebies?
Yes! Here are a few free printables I created for all of us to get started. The Happiness Quiz is a quiz for you to keep. You can take it and see where you fall and then at the end of the year you can literally measure your improvement. The annual goal setter is your first Journal entry! Relax with a cup of tea or coffee and reflect on some things you remembered and then focus on the future by writing down some attainable goals. The last pdf is just in case you need more space to write.
Tune in next week for a new newsletter and some new printouts.
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”-Dalai Lama