Ways to Happy
By Marian Connor
I was thinking about Happy Meals last week whilst walking alongside a woman carrying her McDonald’s lunch. I wondered exactly what ‘happiness’ was contained therein.
Was it the box itself?
The pleasure from anticipating the food and unwrapping it.
Red which excites the nervous system.
Yellow which promotes optimism.
Or the symbolic smile on the side of the box?
Maybe we perceive it as an actual smile, which when observed on a human, will engage mirror neurons activating areas of the brain that stimulate the facial muscles involved in smiling, resulting in our own expression of pleasure.
When we smile or laugh even if pretending, our body perceives it as genuine and releases brain chemicals to make us feel good.
“We do not laugh because we are happy. We are happy because we laugh.” William James
Was it the content’s ability to satisfy hunger?
Or the tryptohan delivered in the carbs facilitating the production of serotonin to regulate mood.
Or the hedonistic pleasure of the happy meal gift?
Activating the reward system of the brain to release a small hit of feel good dopamine, or happy memories associated with previous lunches.
As a vegetarian I have never had a Happy Meal, so it is difficult for me to know, but friends who have, and take great pleasure in a cheeky Maccy D, told me to stop analysing the whys and wherefores because it was sucking the joy out of something that contributed to their ‘Happy’.
So I did.
There are many forms of happy and many roads leading to it, as well as a whole lot of nudges along the way. We will be discussing this when we present our ‘C’mon Get Happy’ experience at the International Quarter London for Produce UK later this month.
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