The art of happiness – Feeling good, looking good

Are you feeling happy? Science says happiness is really good for us, physically and mentally, and science also says that it's actually up to us how happy – or not – we are. Here's an exploration of the meaning of happiness, why it's good for us to choose happiness, and how looking good helps us feel good.

Why it's good to be happy

You know how it feels to be happy. You feel extra-bright and clear. The world looks beautiful, the colours are more vivid, the scents are more lovely. And you probably also know how the opposite feels: when you're unhappy everything looks grey and dull and ugly, everyone seems unfriendly, nothing goes your way. If happiness wasn't good for us, it would make us feel bad. In 2005 a large scientific study revealed how the happier we are, the lower our heart rates. And that means happy people tend to have better cardio-vascular health.

In 2010 another study showed how happiness is good for our health, and can even make us smarter. The article – in New Scientist magazine – even discussed how the human brain might be hard-wired for happiness. 2012 saw another piece of research, this time showing how having a sunny disposition is good for your health. In fact they say happiness is as good for you as not smoking, lengthening your lifetime just as much as a smoker compared to a non-smoker. And weirdly, Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton from Princeton University have discovered that ordinary, day-to-day happiness levels off once people earn an annual salary of around £60,000. While it looks like having enough money helps to make us happy, the effect is limited. That's borne out by some 2007 research, which highlights how winning the lottery doesn't make us feel as happy as we think it will.

It's your choice whether to be happy or not

Some say that happiness means being responsible for your own experiences. It makes sense, since you can't realistically expect something or someone to do it for you. If you expect others to make you happy, you'll always be disappointed. And there's a lot to be said for not blaming other people for your unhappiness. It's good to know that it's entirely possible to make yourself happy, no matter what your circumstances happen to be.

You might hate being single, never quite have enough money, dislike where you live, think your job is rubbish. But that doesn't mean your life is rubbish. You can feel as happy as you like, all on your own. It's actually easy, and it feels fantastic.

The language you use inside your own head matters a lot. If your inner voice is constantly telling you you're stupid, ugly, boring, bored, fed up and depressed, you will end up feeling that way most of the time. But when you change your inner language to positive language you feel better... fast. When you tell yourself you're interesting, attractive, and fun, and constantly tell yourself how lovely your life is, it soon starts to feel real.

What makes us happy?

  • Spend time with people who make you smile – it has been proved that happiness rubs off, and being with a happy person helps you become happier
  • Stick to your values – when we agree to things we disagree with, disapprove of or feel bad about, we feel bad. Hold onto your values, honour them and it helps you feel good about yourself
  • When something great happens to you, embrace it and celebrate it
  • Don't let the perfect get in the way of the good – yearning after perfection is a reliable way to make yourself unhappy
  • Always expect the best from life instead of always expecting the worst
  • Know for sure that imagining having the things you want helps you get them – visualise, celebrate, and feel joyful about all the great things your life holds
  • Avoid things you don't like, do more of the things you love
  • Put yourself first. It's not good to sacrifice ourselves all the time
  • Find a purpose in life, be part of something bigger than you are
  • Follow your heart – you are the only person who knows what's best for you
  • Push yourself, not others. You're the only one responsible for your happiness, so give everyone else a break. Stop blaming other people or the world for the way you feel and you'll feel better, faster
  • Remember change isn't always scary, change is often a very good thing. Don't fight it
  • Enjoy simple pleasures – you don't need a luxury yacht and a house in Spain to be happy. Maybe you just need the people you love and a hobby you adore

How dressing up makes us feel good

Here's one more true thing – when you look good, you feel good. Looking good doesn't mean being in fashion, being noticed, being skinny as a rake, being voluptuous, being made up to the nines or insisting on designer clothing every time. It doesn't mean spending a lot. It's about feeling right in the things you're wearing: comfortable, stylish and true to your own taste, true to the look you know suits you best. If you've ever woken up feeling a bit blue then cheered up no end thanks to wearing the summer dress you love so much, or the hoodie you like best of all, you'll know exactly what we mean!

How colour affects your mood

There's a lot of talk about colour and how it affects our mood. It's all about colour psychology. But colour is actually very subjective. A great many people love the colour blue. In fact it's the world's favourite colour, even in China where red, green and yellow are the most lucky colours. Personally I'm not keen on blue. It doesn't suit my skin or my hair colour. I adore reds and oranges, pinks and browns, and wearing them makes me feel the happiest of all. How about you?

How wearing Fair Trade makes us feel even better

Add Fair Trade to the mix, buying clothing made by happy people working in safe, pleasant circumstances and paid properly, and the happiness meter goes up another notch. How can you not feel happier about clothes made by people who are well cared-for and respected? Get that fashion feel-good factor at Wicked Dragon – we sell happy clothes!



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