The global population as a whole is not the happiest lot. This is presented by the World Happiness Report and Gallup Sharecare Wellbeing Index annually measuring happiness pulse of the global population. Wellness, wellbeing and happiness – the terms cannot be disentangled but a subtle difference exists between them. Happiness is a perceptual stimulus whereas wellness connotes the overall wellbeing of health and mind working harmoniously.
In the Happiness index from the World Happiness Report, Finland tops the list followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Netherlands. The US ranks substantially below other wealthy nations (18 out of 156 countries) though it is highly ranked for per capita income.
What makes a person happy? Is it their daily life experiences or achievements? The answer would be quite vague. We can come up with a generalized conclusion that if expectations outweigh life events, a person can be assumed to be happy.
Happiness breeds wellness – not the other way round:
A continuous flow of positive emotions and attitude resulting in higher levels of satisfaction has a direct impact on health and wellness. But mere fleeting of positive emotions are just not enough to sustain your happiness. It needs to be nurtured through different activities and external support.
Human connection and community bonding – the mainstay of happiness:
One of the longest-running studies from Harvard since 1938 suggests strong community support and close relationship and ties make people more healthy and happy than their socio-economic status, intelligence and genes and reduce the mental and physical decline.
Years of happiness reports also indicate a strong linkage between human happiness and social connection and community bonding. But experts warn that current global population is experiencing “Loneliness Epidemic” posing a higher risk of mortality than that caused by smoking, alcoholism, obesity and physical inactivity.
Happiness driving trends to uplift wellness:
Governments put happiness first:
The tiny mountain-locked nation Bhutan was the first to put happiness as the topmost priority where the country’s development is measured by GNH (Gross National Happiness) based on psychological wellness, education, health, culture, ecology and community vitality.
The UAE recently has appointed a Happiness minister prioritizing happiness in a wide range of sectors. The prime minister of UAE has also launched the World Happiness Council in 2017 to help other governments promote happiness among the population.
Ecuador has a minister of happiness. Venezuela has included the vice minister of Supreme Social Happiness. The UK government has recently appointed the world’s first Minister of Loneliness to reduce social isolation for every age group in the country.
Introduction of happiness schools and classes:
Anxiety and depression are rising alarmingly among school-grade and college kids. Rising incidences of school violence do not augur well for the future of the society. Voluminous school curricula and cut-throat competition are exerting tremendous pressure on the tender minds making them unnecessarily aggressive and violent.
Many schools are including happiness lessons conceptualized from happiness science in their lesson plans to inculcate the virtues of human connection, fellow feeling, kindness, mindfulness, generosity and grow a positive outlook towards life. In India, many schools are stressing on learning amidst enjoyment than the traditional teaching methods.
In the US, Happiness Clubs are being launched in high schools to reach millions of students enabling them learn to the skills of happiness and develop an optimistic view towards life and career.
Encouraging tech-disconnection but more social connection:
Evidences prove that widespread use of technology has driven in more unhappiness. The barrage of emails, push notifications and hyper insanity churned by social media are leaving global population unhappy, unproductive and unwell. Reclaiming mind’s peace, tranquility and focus are what people look for in their pursuit of wellness.
Digital zone-free restaurants, gyms, spas, cafés and stores are coming up inciting a behavioral change in people glued to screens. Unplugging is becoming a rewarding activity. Governments of some countries are enacting ‘Cinderella Laws’ forbidding children access online games after 10 pm.
In a paradoxical situation, the same tech-connection is also facilitating in breeding happiness through a number of apps helping users set their limits on mobile usage. Longer unplugging hours are fetching few tangible rewards in the form of cash recharges as well.
Happiness seasoned menu:
The current wellness trend is also seeing the selection of more serotonin and happiness-hormone boosting foods like tuna, salmon, nuts, seeds, bananas, blueberries and spinach and obviously the dark chocolate. In a notable effort, an airline is also serving ‘mood foods’ like green tea and lavender cakes to passengers. What about having a mood-enhancing pizza on a bad day?
The real eye-opening wellness research is certainly the influence of our gut biome on our emotions and happiness. A major portion of mood-boosting serotonin is produced in our gut and disruptions in the gut biome ecosystem are connected to anxiety, depression, dementia and even autism.
Therefore, eating choices for a healthier microbiome would constitute of soluble fibers like brown bread, nuts and seeds and probiotics comprising of yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha etc.
The rise of Happy Fitness:
Not that usual boring rigorous workout schedule that leaves you exhausted quite often. People are shunning conventional gyms and spinning classes and opting for sessions with childish vibes. Even simple old-school exercises are instilling the required dose of fun in physical activity.
Next comes walking that dramatically boosts our mood and brain health. Meditation and mindfulness give you a way to immerse you in the present moment relieving the mind from unhappy feelings. Another unique approach to happy fitness is Laughter Yoga where breathing techniques are entwined with voluntary laughter!
Offline Happiness Travel:
Travel disconnected. The biggest wellness travel trend is for off-the-grid destinations but nurturing a meaningful human connection. While silent spas, silent resorts have gained popularity last year, the current wellness travel is explicitly focused on digitally disconnected destinations.
Remote wellness monasteries, Log off retreats in rural locations free from digital disturbances, digital-free summer camps, women-only digital-free retreats are fast occupying the wishlist of wellness travelers.
People are desperately looking for distraction-free calming zones where they can recalibrate themselves being immersed in meditation, yoga, saunas and spas or engaging in aimless roaming in the wilderness, farm-to-table cooking classes and other outdoor activities. The days are not far when Wi-Fi free zone adverts by hotels and resorts would see quick bookings!