Warner: “You got into Harvard Law?”
Elle Woods: “What? Like, it’s hard?”
As we learned from Legally Blonde, not everyone is cut out for an Ivy League education. The courses are demanding, and the competition is fierce. That’s why it was so surprising when nearly 25% of the student population signed up for Yale’s course on happiness in its first year. With so many courses on offer, these Ivy Leaguers wanted to understand happiness.
Why is happiness important?
Aside from actually being happier, which is a pretty great reason in and of itself, being happy leads to physical characteristics, including:
- lower heart rate
- lower blood pressure
- lower levels of cortisol
- healthier heart rate variability
- protection against stress
- reduced chance of illness
With short and long-term benefits associated with happiness offering proof that positivity is life-changing, it’s time to start smiling!
How to be happier
Happiness isn’t something you can just will into your life. You need to take proactive steps toward positivity. While doing things like listening to your favorite mood-boosting playlist, eating your favorite snack, practicing breathwork, or taking a walk in the sun can boost your mood for a short time, today, we’re talking about habits you can integrate into your life to increase long-term happiness levels.
A lack of sleep can cause grumpiness, for sure. But can extra sleep actually make you happy? One study found that individuals who got less than 6 hours of sleep each night were more likely to report depression than those who got at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
Prioritize your sleep schedule. Getting enough sleep AND keeping your sleep schedule consistent can maximize the happiness benefits.
Assess what you’re putting into your body
You can’t plant a cactus and hope a rose will bloom. In the same way, you can’t fill your body with toxins and feel good. These kinds of foods can leave you feeling sluggish and sad:
- Sugary food and drinks
- Processed foods
- Refined carbohydrates
While cigarettes are technically not food, here’s your friendly reminder: smokers are more likely to develop depression than non-smokers.
Instead, stock your pantry with these mood-boosting foods:
- Chicken breasts
Happy foods may take a little more prep time than running through the drive-thru for a “Happy Meal,” but the result is worth it. Avoid sugar spikes to keep your mood stable all day long.
Let’s go back to the illustrious Elle Woods once more: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.”
The fictitious Harvard law student isn’t wrong. Exercise can reduce adrenaline and cortisol, which are the hormones responsible for anxiety and tension, while releasing feel-good endorphins. And, of course, the muscles that result from working out can boost your self-confidence.
Sign up for Enhancewell Fitness classes for a fitness community that will set you on a path to happiness! We offer personal training sessions tailored to suit your goals and schedule and group classes where you can bond with other attendees over the shared experience.