Reasons to Be Cheerful

25 Nov 2011

Feeling blue? That won’t last long with our bag of feel-good tricks. We’re predicting sunny skies and smiles

The Best Feel-good Movies

The Goonies
The ultimate kids adventure movie, it’ll take you right back to that feeling of childhood wonder.

Mamma Mia
All-singing, all-dancing joy through ABBA anthems set in the beautiful Greek isles.

Single Amélie spends her time focusing on others’ happiness and relationships until one day, it’s her turn to fall in love.

Little Miss Sunshine
The tight bond of a family conquers all, no matter how dysfunctional that family may be. Wacky, hilarious and heartwarming.

Love Actually
Chock full of warm messages, wonderfully real characters and chuckles a-plenty, it’ll give even the cynics amongst you a lift.

Pretty Woman
An 80’s fairytale, what’s not to love? That scene where Vivian gets her own back at the shop assistant who had snubbed her will make you feel gleefully satisfied every time.

The Full Monty
During tough times, laid off steelworkers unleash their hidden dance talents in a hilarious and moving effort to support their families, learning a lot about themselves and each other along the way.

As Good As It Gets
A mean, grumpy old man falls in love and discovers how wonderful the world can be when you have a reason to smile.

15 Songs to make you sing with joy

1. Free Fallinby Tom Petty

2. Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves

3. Club Tropicana by George Michael

4. Sugar Sugar by The Archies

5. I Feel Good by James Brown

6. Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles

7. Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations

8. Beautiful Day by U2

9. Holiday by Madonna

10. Lollipop by Mika

11. What I Got by Sublime

12. Are You In by Incubus

13. Crazy In Love by Beyoncé

14. R.E.S.P.E.C.T by Aretha Franklin

15. Smile by Lily Allen

8 Websites to put a smile on your face Tired of feeling depressed every time you pick up a newspaper or try to see what’s going on in the world? How about a site that only shares the positive stuff? Always real and always uplifting, it’s hard not to let it pick up your mood. Described as a “FML for Optimists”, this site posts tidbits and secrets about peoples’ days – often sentimental, sometimes heartbreakingly touching, they all end on a joyful note. Who doesn’t love a fluffy bunny or a cuddly pup? The team at Cute Overload posts the cutest animal pictures from around the web on a regular basis, turning them into “daily happy pills”, adding silly captions and adorable videos to enhance the experience. It’s a must-visit for a dose of warm-hearted snuggly goodness. It’s the little things in life that make it great, and this site shows there’s no shortage of them. Ticking down from 1,000, it’s been posting a daily awesome thing five times a week since June 2008. You know how sometimes, no matter where you are in the world, you come across a sign written in completely incorrect English that clearly means nothing to do with what was intended and ends up sounding hilarious? Well, it’s been dubbed “Engrish” and this site collects it in droves. Giggle away. If you ever find yourself scrawling through YouTube trying to find a video that will make you cackle with glee, stop right there and switch over to this site instead. Full of funny videos and pictures created by everyone from celebrities, comedians and regular users, uploads have to survive enough “funny” votes to stay on the site or they’re relegated to “die.” With funnyman Will Ferrell as one of the founders, it was bound to be a winner. We’ve all got them. Those awkward, terrible family photos that you think look fi ne in at the time, but you dig them up 10 years later only to realise you sported a mullet and a velvet pantsuit that made you look like MC Hammer. Well, believe it or not some peoples’ are worse, and they don’t always realise it – and you can gawk and snigger at them right here. After years of working as an IT consultant, Taiwanese man Terence Chang decided to launch this site as a personal project to promote happiness. Here you’ll find endless pictures of men, women, children, celebrities and non-celebs all flashing their pearly whites. Well, unless it’s a closed-mouth smile. They have those too of course.

The 10 Jolliest Countries in the World

How do you measure the happiness of a country? According to researchers at the Legatum Institute, it’s by measuring a combination of healthiness, the amount of quality time spent with friends and family, how safe and secure you feel at home, how freely you can speak your mind and how many opportunities you have, be that in terms of your education or your career. With their findings, we present to you the happiest countries around the globe:

  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Sweden
  • Canada
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands
  • United States

6 Apps to cheer you up

Happy face Resembling a Sudoku with happy faces, fl ip sad faces to make a happy line in the grid.

Voice changer plus Amuse yourself by hearing your voice transform into anything from a mouse squeak to a traffic helicopter.

Timwit Flick through hundreds of funny comic images that’ll give you a visual and mental tickle.

Happiness tips Page after page of inspiring tips and tricks to lift your spirits. Try a new one every day!

Ilaugh Snigger about a new joke every time you load it up – there’s a database of over 50,000 in a plethora of categories.

Bubble popper Who doesn’t love the satisfying, simple pleasure of popping bubble wrap? See how many bubbles you can pop in a number of seconds!

Eat this, perk up

Tired, depressed or grumpy? Eating the right foods can lift your spirits. Yasmine Haddad, Licensed Senior Dietician for Live’ly in the UAE, suggests the foods below for a diet rich in happy hormones. She also recommends eating every two to three hours: “Eating consistently throughout the day at regular intervals provides your brain and body with a constant source of energy and helps lift your mood and stabilise your blood sugar, consequently stabilising certain hormones such as insulin and cortisol to allow for reduced stress and fatigue.”

Egg yolks
Yes, we said egg yolks not whites. According to Yasmine, foods containing Vitamin D such as egg yolks, fat-free and low-fat milk, fortified soy milk and fish with bones can help relieve mood disorders because it elevates the amounts of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood. If you’ve ever wondered why getting at least 10 minutes of sun exposure daily (without sunblock) makes you feel so much cheerier, it’s because the Vitamin D helps combat the depression caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) otherwise known as the “winter blues”.

“The body cannot produce tryptophan which serves as a precursor for serotonin, which helps the body regulate appetite, sleep patterns and mood. If we don’t get enough through our diets, the defi ciency may lead to the prevalence of mood disorders, anxiety, cravings and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),” says Yasmine. Tryptophan occurs naturally in nearly all foods that contain protein, such as red meat, dairy products, nuts, seeds, bananas, soybeans and soy products, tuna, shellfish and turkey.

Rich in folate, broccoli is more than just good for your waistline.“Studies have shown that low blood levels of folate can be related to depression,” says Yasmine, explaining that the vitamin helps the body create more serotonin. A folate-rich diet including whole-grain breakfast cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, oatmeal, mustard greens, beets, sunflower seeds and oranges can help release happiness-boosting chemicals.

Strawberries, along with oats, brown rice, barley, apples, pears, oranges, sweet potatoes, bananas, carrots, peas and beans contain soluble fibres, which have the capability to slow down the absorption of sugar in your blood and help balance blood sugar and mood swings.

Lean beef
Carnivores, rejoice. Like folate, Vitamin B12 has also been shown to increase serotonin levels and it’s found in lean beef. “Eating a diet rich in these nutrients is important for maintaining a good mood,” says Yasmine. Other Vitamin B12- rich sources are shellfish (clams, oysters and crab), wild salmon (fresh or canned), fortified whole-grain breakfast cereal, cottage cheese, low-fat yoghurt, milk (skim or low-fat) and eggs.

Brown rice
“Concentrated sources of sugar like soda, candy, fruit juice, jam and syrup and white starch like white bread, crackers and bagels can create an imbalance in your blood sugar, which may lead to you feeling grumpy. Instead include high-quality complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruit, beans, peas, lentils, brown and wild rice and oatmeal, which helps you stabilise your blood sugar and therefore your mood,” says Yasmine.

“Oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are shown to be mood lifting and help possibly reduce depression,” says Yasmine. Other sources include ground flaxseeds, canola oil, walnuts and omega-3 fortified eggs.

Foods that are rich in proteins such as tofu, chicken breast, seafood and fish, beef steak, eggs and lowfat yoghurt will help slow the absorption of carbohydrates in the blood. This can help leave you feeling energised and productive for hours, Yasmine advises, continuing, “be smart in choosing your proteins and consume your meats grilled or steamed without skin.”

Books to give you a boost

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by Dalai Lama XIV Bstan-‘dzin-rgya-mtsho and Howard C. Cutler

Get Some Headspace: 10 Minutes Can Make All the Difference by Andy Puddicombe

Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change by Timothy D. Wilson

The rules of happiness

Read this every morning for a guaranteed good day

1. Let go of that which you cannot control

2. Reframe mistakes as lessons

3. Focus on your own success

4. Engage in activities that give you pleasure

5. Talk to a friend

6. Notice the half-full glass

7. Appreciate the present moment

8. Boost your energy through a healthy diet and exercise regime

9. Help others

10. Ask for help yourself

INFO: Linda Sakr, Counselling Psychologist, Dubai Community Health Centre (dubaicommunityhealthcentre. org)