Every year since 2013, on 20 March the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Happiness so as to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. BODY WORLDS Amsterdam helps to promote this cause, through our exhibition: The Happiness Project, where we explore different facets of happiness as it relates to the human body.
In 2021 the UN seeks to unite humanity behind a common purpose: to build back happier in harmony with nature. 2020 has been hard on everyone but now that vaccines are becoming available we all enters a new, more hopeful phase.
Jayme Illien, Founder of United Nations International Day of Happiness calls upon everyone to create a better world for all. "As we all start a new chapter in the great story of all of us, turning the page to a post pandemic, both new and next normal, with lasting lessons from our shared experience and suffering, let us begin anew the quest for a world where all are happy, well, and free".
At BODY WORLDS we know that how happy someone is depends on three things. Research shows that the circumstances of our lives make up 10%. A further 50% is made up my our genes, which means that everyone has a different natural level of joy to which we each return after failures or triumphs. The remaining 40% is accounted for by our own actions.
There are a couple of hormones and neurotransmitters which are known as feel-good hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. This means that the pursuit of happiness is really a pursuit to stimulate our bodies to produce these hormones.
Dopamine is responsible for reward-driven and pleasure-seeking behaviour. When you are proud of yourself, eat comfort food, listen to up-beat music or win something your dopamine levels will increase and give you a rush, but too high levels of dopamine can lead to mania and hallucinations. So be careful not to over do it when you are looking for that rush, look for that healthy balance.
Serotonin creates feelings of confidence and self-esteem. You can push your body to create more serotonin by challenging yourself o accomplish activities that will reinforce your sense of self-worth, purpose, and belonging. Exercise, getting some sun or a well-deserved massage have all shown to increase serotonin levels.
Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the hug hormone as it's levels increases during moments of shared intimacy: be it familial, platonic, romantic or sexual. It increases our sense of trust and generosity in some situations but envy and bias in others. Natural ways for you to increase your oxytocin levels include getting a pet, hugging your loved ones and taking part in group activities.
Feeling happy influences our health in a physical way, meaning that whatever action for happiness you take will have an immediate though not always lasting effect on your body. BODY WORLDS: The Happiness Project explores this across seven floors in the heart of Amsterdam.
Through our exhibition we aim to give insight into the complex structures of human anatomy, show what connects us, keeps us upright and in motion, and what makes us laugh and love. This allows us to help in the promotion and advancement of the mission of the International Day of Happiness.