PHOTOGRAPH: youichi4411, 123rf.com
In May this year, Texan mother Candace Payne took a video of herself wearing a Chewbacca mask and posted it on Facebook. In the four-minute video, which was captioned “It's the simple joys in life....”, Payne was seen laughing uncontrollably, clearly tickled by the way the talking mask made her look and sound.
The viral video became Facebook’s most-viewed live video of all time, and Payne, who was later nicknamed Chewbacca Mom, became an Internet sensation overnight.
If you watched the video, you likely would have cracked a hearty chuckle or two. It would’ve been impossible not to. Payne’s hysterical laughter and unbridled joy were contagious.
In the weeks that followed, the 37-year-old received countless Facebook comments, e-mails and text messages from people who said that the video helped them through a sad or depressing spell. In interviews with TV talkshow hosts and newspaper reporters, Payne said that she was happy to be able to spread that kind of joy to others.
Make better choices to feel happier
What the Chewbacca Mom video has shown is that it’s really not that hard to turn a low mood around. We’ve all heard that “happiness is a choice”, and in many ways this is true.
“There’s no doubt that some of our happiness is determined by our genetic makeup and other variables outside our control, which is why some people find it easier – or harder – to experience this feeling,” says Timothy Sharp, founder and chief happiness officer at The Happiness Institute in Sydney.
“But there’s also no doubt that a significant proportion of happiness is attributable to ‘intentional behaviours’ or the ‘lifestyle choices’ we make every day. So, regardless of our genetic makeup, if we make better choices more often, we can definitely feel happier more often.”
It’s important to understand that no one will be happy all the time, though. It’s also important to remember that happiness will be more elusive on some days than on others. “That being said, there’s always something we can do to boost our mood,” Timothy adds.
Everyday ways to feel happy
Here, Timothy shares some great ideas that anybody can follow:
1. Do just one thing that makes you feel good. This might not solve all your problems but it will almost certainly improve your mood, which will then create more motivation, inspiration and positive energy to tackle whatever lies ahead.
2. Complete one task you’ve been putting off. This might not create a lot of pleasure, but the satisfaction you’ll get from crossing that challenge off your To-Do list can make you feel better about yourself.
3. Exercise or move. As well as being good for your body, physical activity has also been proven to boost your emotional health.
4. Focus on something positive that’s coming up in the future. If you don’t have anything coming up, plan something, like a holiday, a gathering with friends, or some quiet “me” time. Hope and optimism are powerful mood boosters.
5. Call a friend. Share your thoughts with him or her. It’s said that a problem shared is a problem halved. It can also be said that a pleasure shared is a joy doubled.
6. Practice gratitude. Focusing on what you have and less on what you don’t is one of the most effective contributors to happiness.
7. Read or watch something funny. Search for stand-up comedy shows on Youtube, or pick up a funny book or comic. You’ll be smiling in no time.