A recent item on Close Up was about Top Secret Dance Off, a game where members complete dance challenges in strange disguises and get ‘marked’ by others online. Wellingtonians are the biggest number of participants in the game, which has about 200 members worldwide.
What really got me interested was what the inventor of the game, Punky McMonsef, said. The ‘secret’ of dance is that it is fun: it makes you feel happy. Apparently, even watching someone else dance releases the same feel-good chemicals in your brain as actually dancing!
Incredible! How much do we hear about happiness at the moment? It made me wonder how different we would feel if we started focusing on the good stuff in our lives instead of all the doom and gloom. I’m not getting all new-agey and talking about burying our head in the sand and pretending that everything is fine or hoping it will all go away if we just ignore it.
What I’m talking about is understanding that it is the little ‘moments’ in our life that build a sense of purpose and contentment, even in the middle of difficult circumstances. It is about finding the balance between being realistic and practical, and having an positive, hopeful outlook on life.
Believe it or not, there is a sector of science which studies happiness. People like Dr Martin Seligman have done research which shows that appreciating the simple pleasures in life, such as spending time with friends or enjoying nature can help make us feel more contented. He has also found that living in a way that is based on our own individual values and strengths helps us enjoy life more; and that a meaningful life develops out of using those strengths to help others.
I’m all for happiness – how about you?