I LOVE this. Did you know that 85% of Australians are happy? We're second only to the Netherlands, according to the Global Happiness Study (2022).
Of course, this isn't universal, getting to some of the lowest rates of happiness in Turkey and Argentina.
There are many things at play here including culture, government structure, country and individual wealth, and what each person considers to be "happy" in the first place. Some of the consistent and universal factors most strongly related to these happiness ratings were, unsurprisingly, individual health and well-being, their children, their relationship with their partner, personal safety and security, feeling "in control" of their life, and their living conditions. I'm not surprised, I too feel at my best when I feel safe, healthy, and secure and I have good connection with my loved ones.
What is the absolute pits, is that 15% of people in even the happiest countries are "unhappy". If you're one of these people and you identify as "unhappy" then we need to find some ways to make your mood a little brighter. Yes, you can work toward some long term goals (and should where possible) to improve your safety (living situation, financial and job security), health, and relationships. However, these are long term goals and they feel overwhelming for just that reason, they're big goals and they take time (years), and sometimes they're also out of your control.
Working with mood can also mean working with your neurobiology. Now this IS something you can have immediate control over. Just a few minutes (~15-ish), consistently each day, doing small maintainable changes can make a big difference to your mood. This is where D.O.S.E comes in.
Would you take your prescribed medication every day? Well D.O.S.E is your mood medication. Your mood is largely controlled by four chemicals that you produce inside your body in response to certain actions. Dopamine is produced when you, for example, get enough sleep or think about your achievements. Oxytocin, the "love hormone" is released when you, for example, hold hands with someone. Serotonin is swooshed through your nervous system when you get outside in the sun for 15-minutes or more. Endorphins are pumped when you practice aerobic exercise for 30-minutes, regularly.
I love this so much and want to encourage everyone to get their daily D.O.S.E, so I made a bullet journal full of dot graph paper to track your happiness habits and chock full of tips to achieve your daily D.O.S.E. You can find our notebook on Amazon.
To get your daily D.O.S.E pick some small change that you will be able to sustain and attach it to something you already do regularly. I've just started to practice morning mindfulness for 1-minute. I've attached this to my morning coffee (We're four days in, wish me luck!). Once this is worked into your routine, then pick something else from one of the other lists and incorporate that in the same steady way. It's also okay if something doesn't work for you! Just swap it out and try again. Change is not going to happen overnight but it can take root and sprout if you give it time. Take a growth mindset approach.
If you're in therapy, your therapist may be trying to get you to do some work around behavioural activation or activity scheduling (we've got a free video on this in our depression series). Your therapist knows that if they can get you moving, they can get your neurobiology moving too. There's a lovely printable here explaining why you can't wait for motivation to hit you.
In closing, I ask you, did you get your D.O.S.E today?