Laugh, it’s good for you

There are two absolute facts in life: you are born and you die.

So in between, it’s how we behave and the attitudes that we learn and hold that define us. But it is not just us; our own behaviours and attitudes influence and affect those around us, especially young people as they develop their own norms and values.

What we do and how we do it is important.

This Thursday (20 March) is International Day of Happiness, and we here at GrogWatch urge you to do something that will not only make yourself happy but also someone else too.

The day is a celebration established by the United Nations, acknowledging that happiness is a fundamental human goal and calling for happiness to be given a greater priority than just economic issues.

We know through research that people exposed to a number of risk factors have a higher risk of short- and long-term harm from alcohol and other drugs.

Risk and protective factors are key influences on young people’s behaviour. The more risk factors in a person’s life, the more likely he or she is to engage in problem behaviours such as school avoidance, violence and drug taking. The more protective factors in a person’s life, the more resilient he or she will be and the less likely to engage in problem behaviours.

It makes sense that we should concentrate on enhancing the protective factors in our own and our children’s lives to ensure they become more resilient. There are many protective factors that can be incorporated into our lives – happiness is one of them.

Suzy Harrington’s article in American Nurse Today says that she believes the key to resilience, both personally and in the workplace, can be summed up by the motto “Live, love, laugh”.

Resilience is our capacity to successfully manage the challenges and threats of life. Young people who have strong and secure relationships with their family, friends and significant adults and who feel a sense of belonging to family, school and community tend to be more resilient than others. There are also a growing number of research papers indicating that people who are happier achieve better life outcomes, including financial success, supportive relationships, mental health, effective coping, and even physical health and longevity (see Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005).

For a more information on risk and protective factors see DrugInfo factsheet: Alcohol and other drug prevention in the family.

The Day of Happiness website has free happiness tips and you can join in the 7 Day Happiness Challenge – starting Thursday 20 March 2014.

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is the leading global measure of sustainable well-being. The HPI measures what matters: the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them.

GrogWatch is interested in your thoughts on happiness and health.

How powerful do you think happiness is at preventing harm in the community?