Go out and touch people (it’ll make you happy)

Now, let me get one thing clear right at the start: I am not suggesting you go around touching people randomly. That’s likely to get you into a lot of trouble. Or punched in the face.

I don’t know about you, but I have a very strong sense of my personal space and I get tetchy when it’s invaded.

Girl riding piggy back on boy through countryside in evening

Regular hugs and touching improves your overall wellness. Go forth a cuddle!

Having said that, you could always try offering free hugs to strangers. That sometimes works wonderfully. Although you’ll get rejected a lot too and that’s painful.

I don’t just mean “awkward” or “disappointing”, either; I mean actually painful.

Yep, we’re back to that fascinating neuroscience again. Studies have discovered that when people are rejected or excluded, their brains respond the same way as if they experienced physical pain.

Social exclusion activates the same neural circuitry as physical pain.

Think about that for a moment, and the implications it has for society as a whole. Is it any wonder we have the social problems we do among the poorest communities?

When you look at those problems in this context, it makes perfect sense.

Relationships aren’t just nice to have. They’re not even just important. They are vital for our individual and collective wellbeing. It’s one of the reasons my Inner Circle works so well.

So, how to use this little snippet to make yourself happier? Simple: do something to release oxytocin. It’s the happiness chemical and it reduces pain.

How to release oxytocin? One of the primary ways is through touching. And that includes small touches like handshakes, and pats on the shoulder — so you don’t have to get inappropriate with people you don’t know very well.

But for those you’re close to: make more of an effort to touch them more often.

It makes you more persuasive (never underestimate the power of a casual hand-touch or arm-brush); it improves flirting (if you’re on the lookout for a new partner); it increases team performance (there’s the reason for all that rugby team cuddling and play fighting).

Holding hands with someone can comfort you and it’s even been shown to reduce the effects of pain.

So here’s my prescription: five hugs a day for you (neuroscience says so: it increases happiness hugely after just 4 weeks).

And if you have nobody to hug? Well, that makes me sad. I hope you find somebody. But for now: go get a massage. Massages boost serotonin by up to 30%, decrease stress hormones, raise dopamine levels, reduce pain, improve sleep, reduces fatigue…

Wow. I think I’m going to go get a massage…

So, that’s tip number 4 to help you be happier. Let me remind you what they are — and how simple they are:

  1. Ask yourself what you’re grateful for. Write it down first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
  2. Give your negative emotions a name and you’ll be less bothered by them.
  3. Make a decision — and remember, good enough is good enough.
  4. Touch people. Not indiscriminately.

 

Interested in a bit more neuroscience and how it can be applied to your business? Grab a hold of my bookBusiness For Superheroes,  and get stuck in!

TTFN,

Vicky

Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS I’m totally serious about all this happiness stuff, you know. You do better work when you’re happy. You’re more productive. And you make the people around you happier. So please, write down these four simple activities, and try to practise them every day. Let me know how you get on.

  1. Ask yourself what you’re grateful for. Write it down first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
  2. Give your negative emotions a name and you’ll be less bothered by them.
  3. Make a decision — and remember, good enough is good enough.
  4. Touch people. Not indiscriminately.
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