The third Monday of each January, Blue Monday, has been calculated as being the most depressing day of the year. This was apparently calculated considering many factors such as the weather, motivational factors and a need to take action. It is usually around this time that apathy following Christmas has set in. We may have failed at complying to our new year resolutions and the credit card bills are in. This coupled with dark days and bad weather creates a breeding ground for unhappy feelings. 

So, if there is a formula for calculating the unhappiest day of the year, can we calculate happiest day? Well, the answer is of course yes, although sadly there appears to be no definitive day registered to mark the event. In 2021, June 20th was considered to be the happiest day of the year.

The missing factor within these calculations is our individuality. Whilst science can look at several common contributing factors to happiness, it’s what is happening around us and our thoughts and feelings that generate our personal happiness. It will come down to how our emotional needs are being met in our current lifestyle. 


What is happiness?


This lofty philosophical question has been debated for centuries. Do we only feel happiness when we are feeling great or is it when we are simply content? If you ask someone what makes them happy, how are they most likely to respond? Is it having the great job, the great relationship, the great lifestyle, a high income? Or is it something that is not tangible?

Research suggests happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life and how good you feel daily. So long term view combined with short term reality. This indicates our level of happiness is generated by our own genetics and the patterns we developed in early childhood. It is therefore a fairly fixed metric that is unlikely to change if you earn more money, get a better job etc. 


I’ll be happy when…

As human beings, we often think we will be happy when we achieve x, y or z.  Achieving these goals will make you happier, but it’s likely to be temporary. We adjust to our circumstances very quickly so that initial burst of happiness will fade. For example, you may think getting a brand-new sports car will make you happy. You save enough money and buy the car of your dreams. Initially you are very happy and every time you go out in it you feel happy. Eventually though, you get used to it, it is no longer your new car, it is just your car. You will see newer and better cars available and you start to think about upgrading. You’re chasing the feeling that has now worn off. 


Happiness is a skill


You may now be asking what is the point of striving for more if we can’t improve our happiness levels. Well, the good news is that you can! Whilst we can’t change our genetics, we can change the patterns our brain use. We can do this by practicing positive psychology techniques. In the same way we exercise to keep our body fit, we can exercise our mind to keep it fit. The more we do something, the more ingrained it becomes. 

Happiness is a skill that can be nurtured. A healthy diet and keeping your body hydrated alongside a regular sleep pattern will also help you feel better. If you feel more rested and are fully nourished you will feel more relaxed and happier. But in addition, research has shown that the things that generate happiness are kindness, purpose, savouring, relationships and gratitude. These are all pillars that support and nourish our basic emotional needs. This impacts on our wellbeing because when these are met in balanced and healthy ways, then we cannot be mentally unwell.  

So let’s explore these a bit more. 




Research shows that happy people are motivated to do kind things for others. This also works in reverse, those who do kind things for others are happier. These do not have to be onerous or generous and could be quite small acts. The simple act of helping someone will make you feel good about yourself and therefore make you feel happy. A quick win could be helping someone in the supermarket or sending someone a thoughtful message. 




One element of positive well-being is feeling connected to a purpose. This will be different for everyone. You may be career driven and your work provides you with engagement, motivation and purpose. You may be religious or spiritual and take part in a social connection with others of a similar belief. If you’re family driven your fulfilment is derived from providing and supporting your children. You may be involved in charity work or community groups. It doesn’t matter what your purpose is as long as it provides you with meaning. If you are unsure think about what your values are and what goals you could do that align with them. Research shows that people who have meaning in their lives are more likely to have stable moods and are happier.




Savouring is the act of stepping outside of an experience to appreciate it. This intensifies and lengthens the positive emotions that come with doing something you love. You could try sharing the experience with another person. Consider how lucky you are to enjoy such an amazing moment. You could get a souvenir or photo of the activity. All these actions help make sure you stay in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can help you to be present and assist you focusing on the sights, sounds and smells around you. A quick win could be closing your eyes and spending a few minutes thinking about a happy moment in your life.




Social connections with other people will naturally boost your happiness levels. Research has shown when people spend quality time with their friends and family, they are more likely to report being happy. Other studies have shown that the simple act of talking to a stranger on the street can boost our mood. If you don’t have many friends, you could chat to a co-worker or someone in a shop or cafe. Human Beings are social animals and we need these connections to fulfil our emotional needs. A quick win could be reconnecting with an old friend.




Gratitude allows you to recognise and appreciate the good things in your life.  Research shows that taking time to experience gratitude can make you happier and even healthier. Take some time at the end of the day to think about what you are grateful for. They can be little things or big things, but take your time and focus on why you are grateful. A quick win could be sending someone a message or email thanking them for something they have done.


Exercising can promote happiness


Yes I know, we’ve all heard about the benefits of exercise! But it can be a great way to boost your happy hormones. It doesn’t have to be anything too dramatic, try doing just 30 minutes per day of moderately paced exercise, i.e. enough to get you out of breath. This could just be dancing at home to your favourite songs. Alternatively go to an exercise class or the gym and integrate socialising alongside exercise. Two happiness boosts for the price of one!


Pitfalls to avoid


Happiness is not a destination. There is no through road to happiness. You will not reach it when you achieve x, y or z.

Happiness is not a constant state. Feelings change constantly and no-one is happy all the time. The pressure to feel as happy as other people can be a major obstacle to feeling happy… 

Money and belongings will not bring you long term happiness. They will give you temporary pleasure but will leave you always wanting more. These things relate to our emotional needs again. They may increase status, and belonging, but ultimately in themselves are not relevant once they have had that effect on our emotional brain. This is why the effect wears off. 

Comparing yourself to others will only bring unhappy feelings. There will always be someone better than you!

Everyone suffers setbacks; learning to accept and flow with external change will help you to move on and grow. 

Adversity provides you with perspective and generally will increase your resilience and allow you to become more optimistic. Do not be afraid of failing. The information that our brains learn from bad experiences help us to avoid them in the future. 

I hope you have found this information about happiness helpful. As always, if you know of someone who would benefit from reading it then please share it with them. Why not head on over to our website for more information and useful downloads. 

Warmest wishes, and Happy New Year! 


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