Nothing evokes a feeling of dancing like the natural rhythm of a heart beat and the sway of the trees. We often have a natural inclination towards rhythm and music. We can see this in the unconscious swaying in a crowd during a moving piece of music, or when small children clap their hands when they are listening to music they like. This unconscious and spontaneous response relates to a human need for connection and expression of emotions, specifically happiness.
Unified Caring Association (UCA) celebrates different techniques and tools for developing and improving emotional intelligence and communication. Much like Moonbeam Feeling Packs, or the caring apps found on our website to help grow caring children and teens, music and dancing can help people express emotions. Almost every culture around the world has some form of music and dance. It has been “…discovered that people of different cultures react emotionally in the same way when listening to different types of music.” (Jennifer Delgado) Dancing and music help us communicate in social networks and are also useful for our mental and physical health. According to recent studies, a key to happiness is found through dancing.
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Psychologists at the University of Örebro tracked a group of teenagers who suffered from social and mental difficulties. Half of the group was asked to join a dance class that met twice a week; the rest continued with their daily routines. After two years, the psychologists found that the group that attended dance classes had less stress or anxiety and felt happier
This was backed up by another study conducted at the University of Derby. These psychologists worked with those suffering from depression. This group received “salsa” lessons for nine weeks. After only four weeks, improvements began to appear. After finishing the course, participants said they had less negative thoughts as well as improved concentration and a greater sense of calm, peace and tranquility.
Dance is an excellent therapeutic resource and has a positive effect on our lives. Australian researchers from Deakin University conducted an interview of 1,000 people. They found that the people who were dancing were feeling happier, more satisfied with their lives, relationships and health. Additionally, these people who incorporated dance into their lives were more easily able to achieve their goals.
Still need more to convince you? There is another report of psychologists at the University of New York, who discovered similar effects in children. 120 children, ages 2-5 years old, were exposed to different types of sound stimuli. Some of these stimuli were rhythmic and others were completely arrhythmic. The children that heard the rhythmic sounds followed the rhythms with body movement and showed more positive emotions and felt happier. If we take all four of these studies and put them together, we have a strong case for having a tendency to move to the beat of the music, and that dancing helps us feel happier.
The Science as to Why Dancing Improves Happiness.
While dancing, our brain releases feel-good endorphins that help us feel comfortable, relaxed, like we are having fun and are empowered. “Music and dance do not only activate the sensory and motor circuits of our brain, but also the pleasure centers.” (Jennifer Delgado) We at UCA agree with neuroscientists at Columbia University who claim that when we move along with a rhythm, positivity is amplified.
Our bodies also respond to dancing in positive ways. As we move, our muscles relax, allowing us to sink further into the music and dance. Our bodies can easily release tension built up during the day. Our bodies become happier and more fluid in their functions, as well as more resilient to the daily activities.
Dancing is not just all about us and our brains. It is also a way to connect with others as much as connect with yourself. Dancing allows us to “…share experiences and meet new people, which has a very positive effect on our mental health.” (Jennifer Delgado)
If we are to do something each week to help promote our happiness, we can dance. Dance in your kitchen, go to tango classes, or turn up some fun tunes and jump around with your kids! All of these will help your mind and body feel better and promote a happier connection with others.
Unified Caring Association (UCA) spreads caring in many ways, one of which is through sharing caring research. Often we see notes about how feeling happy more often helps us feel healthier. Recently we came across an article by HarvardHealth Publishing that suggests that there is scientific evidence that positive emotions can result in a longer healthier life. We are all for that! Want to know more? Here are the short notes on how happiness can equal health.
Start on Happy Things
Begin with what makes you happy. Playing with your pets, helping the elderly at a senior center, or painting are just some of the things that people like to do that brings them happiness. Doing things that make you happy also help lower stress levels. Continually and consistently doing things that make us happy lowers our stress levels and could reduce risks of health problems like a heart attack.
During their research on positive psychology, Research Psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson examined three pathways to happiness: feeling good, engaging fully and doing good. As seen through the testing of hundreds of volunteers and focus groups, it was found that these pathways contribute to happiness and life satisfaction.
Feeling good relates to our ability to seek pleasurable emotions. These emotions focus on reaching happiness in an effort to maximize our pleasure and minimize our pain.
Engaging fully in the pursuit activities that “…engage us fully, from the influential research by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. For decades, Csikszentmihalyi explored people’s satisfaction in their everyday activities, finding that people report the greatest satisfaction when they are totally immersed in and concentrating on what they are doing.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-happiness-health-connection)
What does it mean to be in the flow of things? Is it a fast paced atmosphere where everything seems to be going your way? Or is it when we spend time laughing with those we love? Check out some suggestions below on ways to get in the flow.
-Time just flies by and you realize that you have been working long and hard without feeling tired. The “loss” of time is no big deal, and you would probably do the activity again.
-Your mind is not occupied with your activities of your internal thoughts. “You aren’t focused on your comfort, and you aren’t wondering how you look or how your actions will be perceived by others. Your awareness of yourself is only in relation to the activity itself, such as your fingers on a piano keyboard, or the way you position a knife to cut vegetables, or the balance of your body parts as you ski or surf.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-happiness-health-connection)
-You are present in the moment. This means not thinking about the daily “to-do” list that is sitting on your desk, refrigerator, etc. An example is that you aren’t thinking about such mundane matters as your shopping list or what to wear tomorrow.
-Keeping an active mind and an active body. This can be done through learning music, reading books, playing sports, or going for a hike.