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.

The colours?
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.

Black and white illustration of a suited Victorian man in a top hat sitting in a chair reading a newspaper with the words 'Ways to Happy' written in bold. On the floor beside the chair is a red coloured carpet bag with a yellow smile image like the smile from a McDonalds Happy Meal box

Image Tile/Header by 8 in the Universe

If we have whet your appetite for further discovery, keep in mind that we create interactive experiential workshops and events embracing 8 elements to explore a myriad of ways to enrich workplace health and happiness.

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Photo of Marian Connor and black text saying "Always looking over the horizon to discover treasures to share. Often times whilst partaking of a fine red."