It’s the International Day of Happiness, people.
Time to be happy. On cue.
But happiness doesn’t quite work like that, does it? So, how do we get happy?
For Heidi Alexandra Pollard, who runs Cardiff company UQ Power, happiness is a state of mind.
“I really think we can learn to be happy when we have nothing,” Heidi told Topics.
“We can learn to be happy just by seeing the sunrise. We can learn to be happy by biting into a beautiful piece of fruit and observing how amazing nature is.”
Heidi is part of an event at Carrington Community Centre on Tuesday to mark happiness day, which the United Nations created.
It’ll feature workshops with practitioners in things like hypnotherapy, meditation, breathing techniques and kinesiology.
All these things have the aim of helping stressed-out people to chill out and find some inner peace and contentment.
Heidi said many people may not realise “how much access we have to ways of releasing positive endorphins within our own body”.
“It’s free and we can do it anywhere.
“You don’t need an expensive gym membership and you don’t need to skydive to get a high. You can have one naturally.”
Heidi said people tend to “over-complicate things” in the pursuit of happiness.
“I’ve been on a minimalist path,” she said.
This involves downsizing and letting go of “a lot of my stuff”.
“As I’ve been doing that, I’ve noticed how much my stuff isn’t what makes me happy, it’s the memories that I associate with the stuff,” she said.
She says happiness is more than the urge to feel good all the time.
“If we’re just looking for a high and to feel happy all the time, then pretty soon we start to see that as our new normal – then we seek to go higher.
“It’s a bit like sugar and salt. We keep putting more on our food because we start to get an equilibrium and our body gets used to it. Then we need more. Happiness can be a bit like a drug as well.”
Everyone is capable of feeling content with what they have.
“True happiness is knowing that there’s going to be highs and lows,” she said.
It was also about being more present.
“If we spend our time ruminating about the past, we can get depression. If we worry about the future, we can get anxiety.
“Two of the biggest killers in the world today are depression and anxiety. So instead of being in the past or future, we can learn to live in the now.”
Heidi has a saying that she says over and over to herself and others: “It is what it is”.
“If I’m having a bad day, ‘it is what it is’. Tomorrow is a new day.”
She said happiness doesn’t mean “we go around with a grin on our face all day long”.
“Although, we can trick ourselves into feeling happier. You can do things like stretch your neck and put your head up and smile and it can trick your body into believing its happy.
“We can cheat the system a little.”
Status and Money
In the modern world, many of us are sucked into consumerism and the endless quest for status and money.
And it’s easy to get swept into social-media addiction.
Heidi suggests having breaks from smartphones and to question why you need more things.
“If that extra thing is going to give you joy in your life, great, go for it. But if I’m accumulating stuff to impress people that I don’t really care about, you end up with stuff-all,” she said.
The endless accumulation of stuff was “a sign that we’re filling a void”.
“I know because I went there. I spent 15 years climbing the corporate ladder. I say I’m a corporate refugee. I escaped from the prison that I created for myself.
“True freedom is freedom of the mind and freedom of choice.”
Tuesday’s event has been dubbed “Human Power”.
It’s a collaboration between Heidi’s company, UQ Power, and Michelle Crawford’s company, Being More Human.
“We created this event for free. We’re donating our time,” Heidi said.
“We do something annually to give back to our community. We’ve based the way we do that on United Nations development goals. People think those kind of goals are only about poverty or starvation in Third World countries.”
But they were also about helping people in your own backyard.
“We started thinking how we could help our own community,” she said.