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The Unexpected Takeaway from the World Happiness Summit in Italy

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Lake Como, Italy to attend the World Happiness Summit.  This was a 3-day event, focused on the science of happiness and wellbeing.  But let’s get to the good stuff – the unexpected takeaway.

Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room, no hippies were spotted at the conference, at least not in tie-dye shirts holding hands and singing kumbaya. Instead, it was a group of scientists, politicians, and experts sharing their knowledge and research on how to make people happier. 

But wait, I had an unexpected epiphany during this summit. As I gazed out at the breathtaking Cathedral di Santa Maria Assunta (c. 1396), it dawned on me that my overwhelming sense of joy was due to the novelty of the experience. I mean, I was in this stunning location, taking a moment to reflect and doing something out of the ordinary.

Now, you may be wondering why this realisation is so significant. We all know that routines and habits are vital for success, especially for someone like me with ADHD (even though I secretly despise routine). But here’s the thing, we often become so consumed with our daily grind that we miss out on opportunities to inject novelty into our lives.

So what is Novelty and how do you get it? Novelty is the quality of being new, original, or unusual. And you can get it by simply switching up your routine, taking a different route to work, or trying a new hobby. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try a new type of food or meet new people. Who knows, you might even end up finding a new passion or a new friend, or maybe even both!

And here’s the best part, novelty and beauty are the love buddies of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter that we all crave. Dopamine is like the fairy godmother of happiness, and novelty and beauty are its magic wand. So, instead of chasing dopamine through risky behaviours or unhealthy food, try chasing it through novelty and beauty. Trust us, your brain and your waistline will thank you.

Plus, novelty has another hidden talent, it’s like a superhero that speeds up learning and memory retention. So, if you want to ace an exam or impress your boss with your knowledge, try spicing up your study routine with a little novelty. Who knows, you might even end up becoming the next Einstein, or at least the next Game Show champion.

The upshot, routine and habits are important, but so is novelty and beauty. So, try switching up your routine, be more mindful and use all your senses, what do you notice?  Try something new. Just recently I tried a VR escape room and it was fantastic (I was a little hopeless) and it was joyous.  It’s so easy to get into a routine rut and be on auto-pilot.

PS:  If you want to get a little nerdy and feel like a bit of research, then check out https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2018.10.002. The research looks at the impact of novelty on dopamine in the hippocampus (the memory centre of your brain), stabilising memory retention.

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Lemon Co was created to help you make your change, the way you want, in a really people-centered way.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style

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