Wellness Hub February 2017 5 habits for happiness you can crow about Melissa Shedden February 3, 2017 Share If new year, new you, hasn't quite been working out, good news is, you have a second chance. Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, which kicked off on January 27 will see about two weeks of fresh-start and good-luck celebrations. It just so turns out that some of the traditions are science-backed happiness boosters. So why limit the warm fuzzies to February 12? Practice these time- honoured habits throughout 2017, for your healthiest and happiest yet. Because we can get behind a festival where dumplings are a non-negotiable. HABIT 1: Set a positive tone The tradition: Superstition says whatever you do during the New Year’s period is how you’ll roll in the following 12 months. So no crying, no arguing, and no borrowing money for the first two weeks, unless that’s how you plan to live. The science: The power of positive thinking isn’t just a slogan splashed across a Lorna Jane singlet, it’s bona fide science. Since the 1985 seminal study Optimism, Coping, and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies, psychology experts have been convinced optimism has powerful mind and body benefits. The solution: Our negativity bias means when faced with something less than ideal, it’s easy to think ‘why me?’ Here at Swisse, we’ve replaced the words issue and problem, with challenge. Challenges can be learned from, solved and even at times, good. Try framing things differently for yourself. HABIT 2: Get your house in order The tradition: Go Mary Kondo between your four-walls and tidy up. OK, so technically this isn’t during the festival, but before, as it’s believed you’ll rid your home of any bad luck (and FYI, we know Mary Kondo is Japanese, but cleanliness is universal). The science: Scientific studies show clean, organised spaces reduce stress and increase productivity. Physical order can even improve your eating and exercise habits, a 2013 study in Psychological Science shows. The solution: Trying a new protein ball recipe or watching Married at First Sight, means you often don’t have enough time to clean up messy spaces. If this sounds like you, set an alarm at the same time each day to clean and organise (15 minutes will do the trick). Ain’t no place like an ordered home. HABIT 3: Treat yourself The tradition: It’s not unusual to splurge on a new hairdo and outfit for the celebrations. Red is the most popular, with shades of black and white thought to be unlucky. Steer clear. The science: Giving red a red hot go, just might get you a date. In a study published in the European Journal of Psychology, researchers at the University of Rochester found that men who are shown pictures of a woman in a red dress want to ask her more amorous questions than men who are shown a picture of the same woman wearing blue or green. The solution: Before any happy relationship, comes courting. To up your chances of scoring a date, try lips and a dress in the come-hither colour. After something extra? Swisse Ultiboost High Strength Maca supports sexual health. Reow. HABIT 4: Be generous The tradition: Over the festival millions of Chinese will hand or digitally send each other cash-filled red envelopes, called hongbao in Mandarin. The science: Spending money and time on others or giving to charity puts a bigger smile on your face than buying things for yourself, shows The Paradox of Generosity, a book by US sociologists Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson, who surveyed 2000 people over five years. The catch: It has to be practiced consistently for those good feelings. The solution: Start giving your money or time away today. It could be as easy as each month, inviting someone different from your workplace on a coffee date and covering their caffeine hit. HABIT 5: Be social The tradition: Nothing says Chinese New Year like big dinners with all the traditional food for good fortune and luck. Lucky foods include fish (for surplus), dumplings and spring rolls (wealth), noodles (longevity), sweet rice balls (family togetherness) and rice cakes (improvement). The science: There’s a heap of studies, but one in particular shows that lack of social connection is worse for your wellbeing than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. Yep, life can be crazy, but grabbing some communal grub is good for you. The solution: Set a date (commitments are way harder to break when they're scheduled in advance), make a restaurant reservation (no meal prep or cleaning stress), or organise a bring-a-plate get together (more appealing when one person doesn’t have to do all the work).