#HappyFacts: Inoculate Yourself with Happiness

Each week, Live Happy Radio presents #HappyFacts designed to enlighten, educate and entertain you. Here’s a look at what we’re talking about this week:

Shoo the Flu With a Shot of Happiness

Good mood danceIf you want to beat the flu this season, a good mood may be your best ally. Being depressed or anxious has long been linked to a suppressed immune system, but recent research shows that a positive mood can have a positive effect on your health.

A study by the University of Nottingham found that participants who were in a good mood when they got their flu shots were more protected from the virus than those who were in a neutral or bad mood. Even after taking into account all other variables, the predominant factor in the flu shots’ effectiveness came back to the positive moods. Those who were in a good mood (even while being stabbed in the arm with a needle) showed a higher level of antibodies.

This supports a growing body of evidence about how our emotions and the immune system work together. Although scientists are still trying to figure out just how the mental state triggers physical well-being or disease, the evidence is clear that it does.

So, whether you’re getting a flu shot or just want to stay healthy this winter—think positive and reduce stress.

Smile and your brain smiles with you

SmileWe’ve been told since childhood to smile, but it turns out that all smiles are not created equal. In fact, smiles are used to convey twice as many indifferent or unhappy emotions as happy ones, according to psychologists. Of the 19 types of smiles, only six indicate true happiness.

But what does that mean to your brain? Smiling triggers the brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and endorphins, sending messages to the rest of your body to help you relax while slowing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure.

Whatever your reason for smiling (or whatever kind of smile you’re wearing), know that it is doing good things for your brain and your body! 

The road to happiness is paved with…boredom?

Bored cookie monsterBoredom, which is characterized scientifically as “an unengaged mind,” gives us a great opportunity to reset what is between our ears. Left unchallenged, research shows that a bored mind will often lead to anxiety and depression, but with awareness, boredom also can be used as a sign to reboot our mind. It lets us know that we’re stuck on autopilot instead of using our natural curiosity to explore our environment.

Instead of trying to divert your attention away from your boredom, use it as chance to practice mindfulness. Whether that means meditating or simply becoming aware of your surroundings and trying to experience them in a different way, boredom can be used to “check in” with yourself to find out what’s going on in your mind and with your body. Or, at the very least, use it to take a breath and be grateful for peace and quiet.

 

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