March 20th, International Day of Happiness

Why do good things always happen to certain people?

The answer is very simple and it is not just about luck. According to Dr. Marian Rojas, it is because of how they react and interpret what happens to them. Happiness is not about what happens to us, but how we experience what happens to us. Good or bad, there are people who always see it as an opportunity. Their brain is predisposed to this way of thinking.

In 2019, a best-selling book in Spanish was How do you make good things happen to you? written by psychiatrist Marian Rojas Estapé. She talks about happiness from the point of view of psychiatry and believes that there are three factors that determine our way of acting:

1. Our belief system. We all have a series of beliefs in which we have been educated. In our homes, we have seen how our parents react to problems and this can limit us when facing issues.
2. Our state of mind. Your best or worst version depends on your mood. Depending on how I am, receiving good or bad news has more or less of an impact. If one is usually in a good mood, all bad news is less bad. If one is always angry or feeling burdened, good news is less good and bad news can appear worse.
3. ‘The ascending activating system’. This system is located in the brain stem and filters what it receives from reality, capturing only what our brain is interested in. For example, a pregnant woman may only focus on pregnant women in the street and an injured person only notice people on crutches… There is a famous phrase that goes: “What the heart really wants, the mind ends up showing you.”

According to Dr. Rojas, we live in a very advanced but very sick society. In fact, 20% of the population is on medication for mood issues. And this is because we live in a constant state of alert. This scientifically has a very important consequence: we generate so much cortisol that causes inflammation in our brain. Cortisol is a hormone that is at a low level at night and rises in the morning. Our body secretes the substance to make us  active but the problem is when living under constant stress or under threat, we secrete it in such excessive amounts that our mind cannot deal with it.

What physical and psychological symptoms are we talking about?
Our eyes are twitching, our hair falling out, hives, migraines, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, irritable bowel syndrome… We feel uptight with people around us, have lapses in concentration or memory, sleep problems. If cortisol levels don’t drop at night, it’s impossible to sleep well as the body is intoxicated with cortisol.

How can we learn to manage cortisol so that we react in an appropriate manner and are therefore happier? Rojas recommends several things:
1. Exercise. Sport eliminates cortisol. In fact, our body performs better when used to physical exercise.
2. Educate our thoughts. Every emotion is preceded by a thought, and those emotions affect our cells, so it is important to educate the thought. Don’t let your inner voice boycott your mood. When the brain becomes excited, it transforms and more blood flows through the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
3. Detoxification of screens – meditation, relaxation. The screen stimulates people’s brains excessively, causing problems and altering our brain system. Smartphones have accustomed us to instant gratification, but who can say that we have become smarter since using smartphones? It numbs many of the functions of our brain, so the more we can disconnect throughout our day, the better.

This is just a short summary of what you can discover in this bestseller and a great way to celebrate the International Day of Happiness. Did you know that the United Nations decreed it only 7 years ago? In November in our 5th Conference, we will also discuss how happiness influences homes from the point of view of psychiatry.
Don’t miss it! Register here