I’d like to begin by introducing you to my new “Delight Theory,” something I have 100% stolen from a poet called Ross Gay. Gay wrote down one thing each day that brought him delight then published a book of “poem-ettes.” In the process, he noticed that he was a lot happier.
Noticing three things a day that delight us makes us happier
I’ve discovered that sometimes citing three “delights” is more achievable than mustering the three gratitudes we mentioned in our last blog entry, Happy News for the Miserable. When it’s been a really shitty day, it’s a big ask to articulate three gratitudes when you’d rather scream into the void. But rarely a day goes by where there is not a fleeting second that delights us. The scarlet flash of a hummingbird’s chest as it hovers outside your window. The feel of cradling a Heath Ceramics mug first thing in the morning. The way your hyperactive dog lays his head on your lap and gazes up at you. These are the fractions of time that bring a bolt of joy, and if we take note of them, they increase our happiness, right? I am sticking with the theory that they do. Some days these small delights are all we can find, but find them we must.
Personally, I find I notice the delights more when I have taken some cannabis. Perhaps it’s because my brain slows down a little, but it works. Science shows us how cannabis interacts with our own, built-in endocannabinoid system, including the “pleasure centers,” making us more open to things that make us laugh and delight us, and in doing so, our happiness skyrockets.
Giving Is Getting. Yup, it’s true.
When we spend money on stuff for ourselves, that hit of happiness is real, but it dies quickly. The fab jacket disappears into the closet and COVID hits and there’s nowhere to wear it. But if you give someone else something, their gratitude and joy persists in your mind, it has lasting value. The feeling is similar when you donate money to a cause. One study concluded that giving activates the pleasure centers in the brain that cause us a “warm glow” and make us feel more socially connected.
But happiness doesn’t always require spending money. Small acts of kindness or simply helping others give us the same benefit and contribute to our health by lowering our blood pressure and perception of pain. Some studies show that doing something kind for someone—praising them, delivering food, sending them a playlist when they are feeling down, writing a letter, sending flowers just because—is the yellow brick road to joy.
Volunteers exhibit more resistance to depression
Volunteering is proven to extend lifespan, probably because it gives us a sense of purpose, and that is one of the key ingredients to living longer and healthier. Volunteers exhibit more resistance to depression and an increased life satisfaction rating. In a study that tracked 2,000 people over five years, those who had volunteered at least 5.8 hours a month rated themselves as much happier than those who didn’t. It’s tough to volunteer during COVID, but put it on the back burner for after the shitshow is over.
But how does giving back relate to cannabis and cannabis products? Cannabis tends to bring out kinder behavior in people. Think about it. Would you rather be with someone who is high or really drunk? My bet is on the former. When we have consumed reasonable doses of cannabis, it increases our sense of connection with others, likely because it increases dopamine in the brain, which is one of the neurotransmitters related to giving. (Interestingly, if you “abuse” cannabis with high doses taken many times a day, it can actually reduce dopamine and cause mood swings or even depression.)
With all the loss and grief surrounding us today, mining the tiny delights and giving more to others make sense. Let us know how it goes for you.