Happiness is a simple feeling, but the way to achieve it can be tricky to figure out.
Ask yourself honestly: what makes you happy? The answer can be as simple as surﬁng with mates. Playing with a dog. Eating your favourite snack. Or it could be more complex, like making someone proud. Doing well in a test. Being given an unexpected gift. It could be the warm rush you feel when you help someone else. It’s easy to see the obvious forms of happiness, like when you win something, achieve something great at school or in your team, or when you draw a cool picture that your friends and family go crazy over. I bet you feel more accepted and loved in those moments. Our sense of happiness is often tied with our sense of accomplishment, or how much we make others happy.
YOUR HAPPINESS TANK
Inside every person is a happiness tank. When the tank is full you genuinely feel loved by everyone. You feel good about yourself and you can easily feel happy about where you’re at in life. But when you’ve had a few issues, you might feel your happiness tank is running on empty. We can refuel our tanks in the following ways, to bring us back to brimming happiness with ourselves and those around us!
THE FIVE HAPPY FUELS (TO TOP UP YOUR TANK)
Do you receive and give enough hugs? Well, get hugging! It’s really easy to boost your serotonin and oxytocin levels (i.e. happiness chemicals) by sharing hugs with others. A study shows that a 20 second hug can reduce stress, blood pressure and heart rate immediately – therefore increasing your happiness tank. How cool is that? Give your mum a hug when you get home, and make sure you hug your best friend when you get to school. You are never too cool for hugs!
2. BE NICE
Using words to encourage and affirm is the best thing about having a voice! Find nice things to say to the people around you. You’ll start to notice the trickle on eﬀect of this. When you are a kinder person, people want to be around you – and therefore have nicer things to say about you, too. You’ll discover that kindness is not just a quality, but a skill that becomes easier with practise. Soon kindness will become eﬀortless as your life ﬁlls up with more joy.
3. QUALITY TIME WITH OTHERS
We’re human, so it’s natural for us to feel at our best when we are hanging out with people who make us feel good – in other words, when you are feeling loved and accepted. Try to think of ways that you can do something fun with those you care about. For example, maybe you love to go surﬁng with your best mates. It could be the highlight of your Saturday. Your happiness tank is full all day!
4. THOUGHTFUL GIFTS
Gifts are tokens of appreciation. Some people are completely motivated by gifts, whereas some people don’t really care about gifts and prefer giving hugs or spending quality time with people. Maybe you know this about your friend or brother or sister, and you might give them a handmade voucher to go to the movies together instead! Gifts don’t need to be about spending a lot of money; they just need to be thoughtful, with the aim to make someone smile – like a handmade card with their favourite activity on the front, a teddy bear, or a book on skating from the secondhand shop. In turn, you’ll feel like smiling, too!
5. ACTS OF SERVICE
Maybe you feel your happiest when you are helping someone. Mother Teresa spent her entire life living by this philosophy of giving, rather than receiving. And she was really happy. Maybe you’d like to research more about her, like how she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and became a symbol of selﬂess giving for others. Do you give your time or help enough? Perhaps if you haven’t given this one a try lately, you might be surprised what happens.
MIX YOUR FUELS: SPEED UP YOUR HAPPINESS
When you do something helpful for someone, they are more likely to praise you. This makes you feel happy. Then you want to praise them, too, because it feels good. Then they want to spend more time with you – after all, you’re a good, helpful, fun person to be around! In turn you both get lots of quality time together. You become closer friends, and on their birthday or special occasion, you might make them a cake or oﬀer a thoughtful gift. Last, but not least, you’ll get to share a hug. Lots of hugs! The perfect way to ﬁll up your happiness tank is with all ﬁve fuels. Yay! Happiness is the best thing ever!