We all have our favorite quotes from Buddy the Elf, from the 2000 Christmas movie, ELF. If we take a closer look at some of those quotes, I think we will find that there is a lot we can learn from Buddy on how to be happy, and increase our sense of well-being.
1. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear…”
As a matter of fact, according to a German research study, singing does enhance immunity by increasing antibodies that fight sickness (http://www.prevention.com/). So, yes, while singing is a great way to spread holiday cheer, it also boosts your own mood and keeps you healthy!
2. “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite.”
I recently read an interesting TIME magazine article (http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1871687,00.html) that discusses different research showing how facial expressions can affect our mood. Marsha Linehan, psychologist at University of Washington, found that helping her patients modulate their facial expressions, helped them to better control their mood. Another study by Davis and Palladino (2000) explain that “feedback from facial expression affects emotional expression and behavior” (http://bipolar.about.com/cs/humor/a/000802_smile.htm). This means that we might actually be able to improve our mood simply by smiling! I know that other people’s smiles brighten my mood, so why not my own?
3. “I thought maybe we could make ginger bread houses, and eat cookie dough, and go ice skating, and maybe even hold hands.”
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of basic human needs, feeling loved and a sense of belonging is third on the list only to physiological needs (air, food and water), and safety (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maslow%27s_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg). A great way to enhance our mood and life satisfaction is to look for ways to cultivate our relationships with others, and find ways to spend time with the people we love. If you think about the last time that you felt indescribable joy, the last time you sensed profound meaning and purpose, the last time you laughed uproariously, etc., I am guessing that each of those times happened around other people. Positive relationships are such an important part of our well-being and happiness. “Other people are the best antidote to the downs of life and the single most reliable up” (Seligman, 2011, pg. 20).
4. “Oh, I forgot to give you a hug!”
In a study where participants were asked to hug their partner for 20 seconds, they found that in the hugging participants levels of Oxytocin increased. Oxytocin is a bonding hormone that triggers a caring response. A daily dose of Oxytocin can also protect from heart disease (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,249138,00.html). Don’t forget to get and give your daily hugs, and feel a great sense of caring and being cared for.
5. “Deb, you have such a pretty face, you should be on a Christmas card!”
After being put to the test, researchers have found that doing a kindness for someone will produce the single most reliable momentary increase in happiness of any exercise tested for the person doing the kindness (Seligman, 2011). This is the season all about giving and doing for others. Instead of getting caught up in the business of it all, try to notice how your mood increases as you make someone else happy.
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