Article by Andy Cope
It’s taken me nearly 12 years to bag a PhD in ‘Happiness’. That’s a dozen years of seeking out happy people, following them around, and finding out why they’re so darned happy. It culminates in a 100k word door-stop of a thesis crammed full of academic gibberish.
But while scrambling around in the happiness undergrowth, I’ve discovered some amazing stuff. Some of it’s weird, some simple, some enlightening, but all of its likely to put a smile on your face… so here are the top 10 things that I didn’t expect to find along the way:
- Money does make you happier
As a happiness researcher, I’ve come to the conclusion that money might not be able to buy happiness but it can certainly buy you comfort, ease, choice and possibility. It remains the number one best thing I know for putting food on the table and being able to turn up the central heating. As for not being able to buy love? Perhaps. But it can buy a couple of long haul flights to somewhere with palm trees.
Let’s be clear, if you plot money and happiness on a graph there is no point where money makes you sadder. The top 10 happies countries are all rich, northern and cold.
- It’s all about your thinking
Happiness isn’t real. It’s not a ‘thing’. Happiness is an emotion and can only ever come from one source – your thinking. It’s taken me a decade to twig that, technically speaking, you are only ever one thought away from happiness.
- Men with a poor sense of smell (anosmia) have small willies
An obscure fact but one that I guarantee you will be sharing in the office tomorrow. Kallman Syndrome (as it is known) is not very amusing for those who suffer. It links back to a gene that is switched on when are were 5 weeks old. Falling into the ‘weird but true’ category, it appears that the cells necessary for triggering sexual development begin in the nose.
- Your happiness is bigger than you
Your happiness is contagious. It reaches 3 degrees of people removed from you so, on a good day, you are positively impacting on your friends, your friends’ friends and your friends’ friends’ friends. So, ‘smile and the world smiles with you’ might be stretching it a bit, but you will be creating a happiness ripple.
- You should wear your special pants on a Monday
Most people are putting their happiness off for a special occasion. ‘I’ll be happy at the weekend’, ‘I’ll be happy on holiday’, ‘I’ll be happy when I find a partner’, etc. Similarly, most people are reserving their special pants for a special occasion.
It is my belief that ‘life’ is the ultimate special occasion. Quit waiting. Wearing your special pants on a Monday will give you an extra spring in your step and you’ll stand out a mile.
- What if your genes aren’t fixed?
Epigenetics is a brand new subject that turns science on its head. What if your genes aren’t quite as fixed as we thought? What if your language and behaviour actually changed the experience and brain structure of those around you? What if you could literally pass positivity on to the next generation? Epigenetics says you can and you are.
- Human energy is a renewable source
Energy comes in various forms, most of which are easily depleted. Physical energy is the body’s naturally occurring energy, produced by burning calories. This is depleted during the day by, for example, arduous work or demanding physical exercise. Psychological energy is associated with mental concentration and cognitive focus. This is expended when, for example, you become mentally fatigued while studying for an exam.
Emotional energy is associated with experiencing intense feelings. This can also be depleted by, for example, periods of intense excitement or sadness, leading to emotional exhaustion.
Relational energy is renewable. Indeed, it increase as it is exercised, suggesting that this form of energy is enhanced and revitalised through positive interpersonal relationships. Relational energy is uplifting, invigorating and rejuvenating meaning that, if you choose to be, you are a life-giving force.
- Happiness is like your eyelashes
Everywhere you look, your eyelashes are there, but you never see them. Ditto happiness. It’s everywhere but you’re not tuned into it. Being happy therefore becomes more about where and how to look.
- ‘You only live once’ is nonsense
The truth is that you only die once. You live every single day.
- We’re placing happiness in the wrong time zone
Life is nothing more than a series of moments, a chain of ‘nows’. How many ‘nows’ have passed you by because you have been so busy looking for happiness somewhere else. Your past can only ever be experienced from the wormhole of ‘now’. Similarly, your future can only be imagined from ‘now’. The secret of happiness is to make ‘now’ amazing.
- I promised 10 but this was too good to miss: The happiest temperature is 57°F
So lazing on a hot beach in Mauritius will not make you quite as happy as a bucket and spade holiday in Whitby. No, really!
Anyway, must dash as I can smell that someone’s left a tap on next door.
Andy Cope is a happiness expert and co-author of The Little Book of Emotional Intelligence: How to Flourish in a Crazy World
For more information see www.artofbrilliance.co.uk.