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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-09-07 05:47:39

irish tatler mind happy place

happy place




From mindfulness minefields to
gloating hashtags, the pressure to
both feel and appear happy full-
time is on. It’s time to debunk
the happiness myths, and go
in pursuit of something real.



5 Accomplishment Accomplishments make us
feel good about ourselves. They activate the
reward centres in our brain, releasing endogenous

opioids and flooding the brain with dopamine

WHAT IT IS (AND HOW TO GET IT) (the neurotransmitter in our brain responsible for

It’s the golden goose of our time, but what exactly pleasure). Try the following to activate the pleasure

is happiness and how can it be achieved? This was centre in your brain:

a question asked by psychologists at the recent • Set yourself a goal. Break it down into small,

British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference. actionable tasks and set yourself a date to achieve

Professor Martin Seligman, a pioneer in positive that goal.

psychology, believes people can be taught happiness. • Create a list of ‘nice things to do for others’ and

He even has a model with associated activities freely engage in random acts of kindness.

available to those interested in learning how to be • Celebrate something you have achieved.

happy – PERMA.

1 Positive Emotions Positive emotions such as Underlying PERMA is the idea that happiness and
love and connectedness are necessary for us to wellbeing are not simply the absence of misery.
They are about flourishing and having meaning in

experience wellbeing and happiness. These emotions our lives.

help us persevere in the face of challenges and find



3 Relationships Good relationships are core to our aiming to suppress negative thoughts, but instead
wellbeing and happiness. Try this activity to help to accept them, making no effort to control, analyse
nurture an important relationship in your life: or change them. This allows the thoughts to be
• Engage in what is known as an ‘active seen and heard so that they can leave the mind. As
George Orwell said, “Happiness can exist only in
constructive interaction’ with a friend or loved acceptance.”
one by talking to them about one of your positive


• Relive the experience while narrating it. Where Underlying PERMA is the idea that happiness
were you? What did you do? How did it feel?

4 Meaning Our life attains meaning when we focus and wellbeing are not simply the absence of
on something bigger than ourselves: misery. They are about flourishing and having
• What gets you out of bed in the morning? meaning in our lives
• What holds deep meaning for you and why?
• What have others done that inspires you?



MIND GAMES People only share the highlights; social media is
For a long time, the heart was considered the seat of
emotion, but advances in neuroscience have shown only a snippet of what is happening in people’s
that the brain is where happiness rests. In particular,
the left prefrontal cortex is more active when we lives and it’s not a true reflection of reality
experience happiness.
According to MediaCom’s ‘Connected Ireland’
Research conducted by Dr Richard Davidson, report released last year, three out of five people
Director of the Laboratory for Affective admitted that they hadn’t stayed offline for more
Neuroscience, Wisconsin, reveals that the following than a single day. Three quarters of those surveyed
activities all stimulate the left prefrontal cortex: said that they use social media at least once a day
with almost half using it multiple times a day.
• Mindfulness meditation Fifteen per cent of people revealed that they’d never
• Engaging in pleasurable activities stayed offline. What does all of this mean? That we,
• Spending time with loved ones as a nation, are avid technology and social media
• Celebrating accomplishments users. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with
this, there are some concerning statistics regarding
This adds neuroscientific support to the research the relationship between online habits and our
already discussed. happiness or mental wellbeing.

The amygdala has also been found to play a For example, the University of Pittsburgh in the
central role in happiness, specifically in terms of US found evidence that the more young adults
how we process information of events that have use social media, the more likely they are to be
emotional significance for us. Interestingly, just as depressed. Another research project, conducted by
it is the left side of the frontal cortex that appears the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, concluded
to facilitate feelings of happiness, it is the left side that intensive computer and mobile phone use
of the amygdala that shows greater activation when is linked to increased stress, sleep disorders and
feeling happy. depressive symptoms in young adults. It also found
that people who are constancy accessible via phone
THE TECH EFFECT are more likely to report mental health issues. While
Are your beloved devices affecting your happiness? most research of this kind concedes that social
It could be time for a digital detox… media and technology isn’t necessarily a direct cause
of unhappiness or depression, but rather that it can
How many times a day do you look at your phone? exacerbate existing issues or emotions, it is still an
Have you ever gone 24 hours without checking alarming trend.
your social media accounts? What about when you
go home; do you turn on your laptop or use your
tablet? Or maybe you check in online just before


O’Herlihy adds that being aware of your

surroundings is also key for positive thinking and

increasing happiness levels: “Take notice of what’s

happening around you. Take your head out of your

phone, take your earphones out and take it all in.

Try walking or jogging without your phone. Take

notice of what’s happening within you – tune into

your experience and ask yourself ‘What am I feeling

now?’ and ‘How am I reacting to this situation?’.

It is also the reason that the term ‘digital detox’ Get to know what triggers you to become both
is gaining recognition. A digital detox is a period happy and sad.”

of time during which an individual refrains from Another area that can be disrupted by technology
using all electronic devices such as smartphones, is sleep, the lack of which can have a major impact

tablets and computers, instead focusing on the on your mind frame and contentment. “It can
physical world. In fact, there is a company called disrupt everything in your life from your health,

It’s Time To Log Off which organises digital detox concentration, and moods to how you function in
retreats in the UK and work, education and at home,” O’Herlihy reveals.

abroad. They claim that “Everyone should aim
such a break can make for eight hours sleep

you up to 91 per cent each night. Make sure
happier, the assertion the room isn’t too hot

being based on a survey or too cold and you are
in which guests were comfortable and, once

asked to rate their sleep, again, get your head out
stress, concentration and of your phone and into

happiness levels before a book to wind down
and after retreats. The before sleep.”

results showed that Arguably the most
switching off for just serious issue when it

five days can make a comes to how social
significant difference. media can contribute to

We know what you’re mental health issues and
thinking, nobody has five feelings of depression is

days to shut themselves TOP TIPS FOR A DAILY the tendency to compare
away from the world. yourself with your

While that may well be DIGITAL DETOX: peers. Not only is this

the case, unless you’ve • Ditch your phone on the commute home incredibly unhealthy
got holidays coming up but it’s also very easy

and are willing to leave • Get some fresh air at lunch (without your devices) because of social media.

all devices locked in your • Don’t check work emails when you arrive home Constantly seeing posts
suitcase, the survey still about job promotions,

highlights and proves the • When with friends and family, leave your phone in your bag personal milestones and

importance of taking a • Avoid all devices for at least half an hour before bed material possessions
break from technology can lead to feelings of

and social media for • If charging devices, put them in a different room dissatisfaction or even

the sake of your mental • Swap your tablet for a book to wind down jealousy. Of course it
health and happiness. • Only check your social media accounts once a day is natural to want to
Mobile phones and other share good news but it

devices allow people to • Don’t dwell on the activities of others; focus on yourself can trigger something in

remain switched on, be someone else. The irony

it checking their work is that people only share

emails or updating their social media status, even the highlights; social media is only a snippet of what

during their time off. The problem is that this can is happening in people’s lives and it’s not a true

increase stress levels and anxiety at a time when you reflection of reality.

should be winding down. In other words, you might think that you’re

Similarly, checking your phone constantly simply logging on to check up on this or that but

when socialising with friends can prevent proper you could actually be putting your own happiness,

communication and connection, both of which wellbeing and health at risk. Considering that

are vital to wellbeing as Jill O’Herlihy, Head of approximately 14 per cent of the Irish population is

Communications & Fundraising at Mental Health judged to have good mental health – with the same

Ireland, explains: “Connect with people around percentage challenged with mental illness – perhaps

you. A chat at a bus stop or at the shops can lift it’s time we embraced the digital detox, or at least

your mood and that of the person you’re talking to. put it to the test.

Close relationships with family and friends provide

love, meaning and support and increase our feelings

of self-worth.”


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