The truth about happiness

And what that means for your health

It’s our last weekend in Mexico,
And I for one can’t wait to come home.
I’ve had the best time,
But my god I miss my family and friends.

You guys look so happy there,
Is something I hear most days,
But the truth is that really,
We are happy anywhere.

Something we’ve realised,
And it took us going away for 4 months with only each other for lols,
Is that we can get into a routine anywhere,
We can find true joy anywhere,
Because that comes from within us,
Between us,
And from the small conveniences and pleasures that occur every day,
Not in the 10 hour flights and sunshine,
Although of course they help.

We were looking at some research earlier this week,
It gave a bit of a crude measure of happiness,
And identified that in women at least,
Happiness was actually lowest at 30–35 years,
Before peaking back up again for the rest of life.

Happiness research is funny,
It tells you marriage makes you happy temporarily before exponentially declining forever more,
Whilst singletons remain pretty consistently happy throughout,
And in the case of divorce,
Life satisfaction first drops, then goes up and stays high.
Take from that what you will.

It tells us that babies ruin relationship happiness,
And often,
The happiness of the mother after the first few years,
Especially single mothers.

Super important to remember here,
That lots of things differ between people and circumstance,
And it’s certainly not a definitive scale of happiness that we must fall into,
I certainly don’t (on the age front at least).

Of course,
We are not meant to be happy all the time,
We are supposed to feel the full spectrum of emotions and my god,
When life kicks you in the labia,
You will feel anything but ‘happy’.

But the evidence suggests too that adaptation to life situations is an important feature of well-being,
Think less this happened to me,
And more,
How can I adapt to this situation?

There are of course times when adapting seems unfeasible,
But when that time passes,
We can see the light again,
We can adapt to that, too.

This stuff isn’t meant to disempower you in your choices.
If anything the opposite,
How amazing that you are truly happy where you are,
And how impactful that you can make decisions to move you away from these apparent social norms if you’re not.

It’s just interesting,
You know?
But there is one thing that most happiness research tell us,
That how happy we are in our relationships,
Has a powerful influence on our health.

In fact in one Harvard study,
Even researchers were surprised.
Close relationships,
More than money or fame,
Were what kept people happy throughout their lives.

These connections protected people from life’s discontents,
Supported a delay in mental and physical decline,
And were even better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or genetics.

Connection and adaptation,
Finding joy and love with others,
Whilst apparently staying single forever,
These are the great things we can do for our health,
These are the self-care methods that beat a face mask any day.

I suppose my take home today is this,
Our happiness comes from within,
And we can certainly defy scientific trends if we want to,
35 is a fantastic age for example.

By practicing gratitude,
Taking pleasure in the small things,
Loving hard.

Acknowledging that our happiness comes from between us and those we love,
Accepting what we can control and doing our best to let of what we can’t,
And reframing the shit out of challenging times.

Whilst also of course,
Falling into a shallow pit of grief and sadness when needed,
Because that is life.

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Emilia Thompson

I’m a Registered Nutritionist, Holistic Nutrition Educator and Therapist in Training. I improve relationships with food in the fitness and wellness spaces.