“Happiness is no laughing matter” wrote Richard Whately in 1854 and right now for many of us trying to survive the Covid pandemic feels like anything but happiness. We also need to be mindful of what can contribute to unhappiness or exacerbate our ability to feel joy. Some of the highest levels of cortisol (stress hormone) produced in any stress simulation comes from social isolation. What has the pandemic created? Social isolation!
Most of us feel better when we’re with others. Individuals with a large social network, those with strong interpersonal skills tend to be happier than those with few personal contacts. What is needed here are real relationships, not those we have accumulated on social media that we hardly know. Having a conversation with a friend or family member can produce oxytocin – a good feeling hormone. Conversely scrolling through social media can serve to heighten feelings of loneliness and depression. Extroverts are happier than introverts. Another factor in the happiness mix is a person’s ratio of expectations to accomplishments. Setting goals is important, but if you set your sights unrealistically high, you may not meet those goals and fall into unhappiness. One’s perception and the ability to set a realistic frame of reference are key to achieving happiness.
As we look forward to celebrating our heritage day in South Africa, there is a lot one can remember about us as a nation that can contribute to our happiness. Change is in our blood and bones – it is in our DNA. We are hard-working, innovative, friendly and forgiving. Let us never forget that our collective will achieved a negotiated peace. We have changed our leadership.
What is inside us is greater than anything in the outer world. We have the power to change our thoughts, feelings and intentions. We can create our own happiness!
By Gail Cameron