“Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.” ~Author Unknown
Most people believe that warm weather makes us happier... but numerous studies suggest the opposite! According to researchers, Shetland, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides, the Scottish islands are among the happiest places to live in the world, and they have only around 1,000 hours of sunshine a year! Topping the list of happiest countries, we also find Norway, Sweden, Canada, Denmark and Finland…some of the coldest places in the world.
The link between cold, dark climates and depression seems so plausible and yet Icelanders exhibit remarkably low levels of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Some suggest this might be ascribed to a genetic factor (Canadians of Icelandic origin also appear to have lower levels of SAD), while others think they may be protected by eating lots of fish, a diet high in Vitamin D.
In 1998, psychologists David Shkade and Daniel Kahneman decided to test the theory that a sunny climate equates to a sunny disposition in a paper entitled Does Living in California Make People Happy? The two men had noticed what they described as "a stereotyped perception that people are happier in California… anchored in the perceived superiority of the Californian climate." So they compared the happiness of southern Californians with Midwesterners.
Two conclusions emerged from their research: firstly, Californians were no happier than people from the Midwest with its wind and rain; second, of all the factors that affected people's life satisfaction, weather was universally listed at the bottom. Midwesterners moaned about the weather more than Californians, but that didn't appear to make much difference to their overall contentment.
Ani Kalayjian, Ed.D., R.N., professor of psychology at Fordham University in New York, advises that we "can and should take proactive steps to strengthen the [brain's] system" against weather-driven mood changes. Her self-help recommendations for SAD sufferers are applicable to anyone who wants to feel happier.
"We tell people to take advantage of the sunny days," says Kalayjian. "Leave the computers and the indoor games and get out there in the sun. That's when they can recharge their batteries—recharge their serotonin—and maintain higher mood."
Stacey Hall, L.S.H., C.N.T.C., is the CEO and Founder of the Hall Institute of Intuitive Wellness and the best-selling author of 'Chi-To-Be! Achieving Your Ultimate B-All.’ (http://www.chi-to-be.com/blog). While recovering from a debilitating illness which left her physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and mentally numb, Stacey Hall made a declaration to herself, “I would devote my life to healing my heart. And, as I learned what made my heart happy, I would share what I learned with others to help them heal their hearts, too.” She joins us to share her insights along this journey.