In this post, I share with you 15 tips to cultivate happiness, fill up your “happiness tank” and blossom like a sunflower. They are based on the Science of Happiness and the insights gained during the research done while writing Yellow Factor, and also on my personal life-long learning journey.

Tip 1 to 9: Cultivating your Sunflower of Happiness

In Yellow Factor (formerly Yellow Goldfish) – which covers nine ways increasing H.A.P.P.I.N.E.S.S. in business can drive G.R.O.W.T.H., productivity and prosperity for customers, employees, and society overall –  Stan Phelps and I have dedicated nine chapters to explore each type, sharing case studies of brands that represent each element of H.A.P.P.I.N.E.S.S.

Sunflower of Happiness

In the Yellow Goldfish series blog post #3 Uncovering H.A.P.P.I.N.E.S.S. in business & #4 Happiness trailblazers you can find who these brands are and what their Yellow Goldfish is.

While the book focuses on how brands can leverage nine different ways to drive happiness for customers, employees, and society, the psychology of universal human needs has been the common and driving framework in identifying the nine ways as each category addresses universal human needs, leveraging years on customer comments analysis, insights from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Marshall Rosenberg’s findings, and other sources (mostly from Yoram Mosenzon and Cara Crisler). This science is applicable also to our blossoming as individuals, and, in fact, we need to start with filling up our own teapot, before we can pour any tea into someone else’s cup.

During the July episode of the monthly “Human Kind (be both!) Show” (which started in May 2021with Chantel Botha, and launched as a webcast and podcast “Happiness Contribution Show” in January 2022), we explored the nine petals of the flower of happiness, each representing a letter of the acronym of H.A.P.P.I.N.E.S.S., and nine ways to help you blossom in business and life, following three steps:

  1. ACKNOWLEDGE: how full is our “pollen tank” on each petal?
  2. ALIGN: why? How does our tank compare to what we need?
  3. AMPLIFY: what action can we take to fill up each tank?

Here is the template to acknowledge how full is our “pollen tank” on each petal.

Here you can listen to the podcast episode related to this.

And here is one tip for each petal, including some practices to fill up our tank during the summer, which is a great moment to rest and recharge!


What: Physical and mental health are the basis for everything else. While we can be happy also with an illness, we surely can prosper and blossom most when we are healthy, physically and mentally. Hence our aim should be to maximize health and prevent sickness or illnesses, like mental overload or cancer which are often the result of our lifestyle and the products we consume.

Needs fulfilled: air, food, exercise, rest, sleep, light, safety, warmth, water

Chemicals triggered: Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphin, GABA.

Some ways or practices to increase this tank: Taking care of your NEST: Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep/Recovery, Touch. (See tip 10 and 11 for more details on this one)


What: Autonomy is about feeling in control of our actions, life, and work, achieving balance and integration.

Needs fulfilled: choice, education, enablement, empowerment, freedom, independence, time and space

Chemicals triggered: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Adrenaline.

Some ways or practices to increase this tank: Reserve some time in your holiday (possibly an hour every day and at least one full day) to be on your own, phone off, just you, your heart, and your thoughts. Last April I did a full 24 hours on my own with my phone off (no internet at all and no calls either) and it was just the reset I needed.


What: Is about contributing to something bigger than ourselves and fostering a better world.

Needs fulfilled: clarity, contribution, consciousness, evolution, growth, hope, meaning, spirituality, and transformation

Chemicals triggered: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, GABA.

Some ways or practices to increase this tank: dedicate a day (or a few hours) to collect abandoned plastic or to do some volunteering activity.


Tip 4. PLAY

What: This allows us to fully express our deepest self, without judgment or fear, focusing on the experience rather than on the outcome, and losing track of time.

Needs fulfilled: adventure, creativity, discovery, flow, fun, laugh, variety, spontaneity, and vitality

Chemicals triggered: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Endorphin, GABA, Adrenaline.

Some ways or practices to increase this tank: Draw, paint with your hands, get dirty. Sing & dance to your happy songs. Improvise. Go on an adventure. Be like a kid. Watch the “Yes Day” movie and Have a YES day. Just LAUGH (with me).


What: Being true to oneself and own values. Believing and acting as a force for good improving the world we live in, contributing to the community and/or preserving the environment.

Needs fulfilled: authenticity, fairness, honesty, justice, progress, quality, reflection, and transparency

Chemicals triggered: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin.

Some ways or practices to increase this tank: the key to being more authentic and feeling that our actions are aligned with our values and strengths is to take time for self-reflection. Here I would like to share with you two tests I recently did for myself and one (the Positive Intelligence one) I have been doing every 2 years since 2015:


What: Nature allows us to move from thinking to feeling. Organizations can recreate the same perceptions, feelings, and benefits of immersing in nature by delighting by design through beauty and harmony, and by promoting experience and preservation of nature

Needs fulfilled: beauty, balance, harmony, calm, comfort, completion, ease, peace, and respect.

Chemicals triggered: Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphin, GABA, Adrenaline.

Some ways or practices to increase this tank: make sure to take daily mindful (barefoot) walks & Take Time (the T in our Growth part of the framework) to simply appreciate the beauty around you.


What: We are hardwired for connection and empathy; our relationships shape our biology and experiences. Feeling accepted and connected to others is at the heart of happiness.

Needs fulfilled: acceptance, appreciation, belonging, care, compassion, connection, cooperation, giving, kindness, love, sharing, support, understanding, and trust

Chemicals triggered: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin.

Some ways or practices to increase this tank: enjoy your friends and family. Have heartfelt conversations. Share how you really feel. Allow yourself to feel, also if that brings up grief and mourning feelings in this time of pandemic. One of my favorite ways to fill up my empathy tank – when I can’t see or talk to my friends – is to listen to Brene Brown Podcast Unlocking Us. In these weeks she is having a special edition about the Gift of Imperfection and here you can take the related Wholehearted Inventory instrument to assess your strengths and opportunities for growth.


What: We have enough complexity in our lives already. Simplicity allows us to easily understand, act and remember, to reduce mental and physical energy consumption to achieve a result and to spend our time on what really matters.

Needs fulfilled: awareness, clarity, efficiency, focus, order, structure

Chemicals triggered: Dopamine, Serotonin, GABA.

Some ways or practices to increase this tank: go offline and off-the-grid. Take a digital detox from all the screens. Go camping!


Tip 9. SMILE

What: Gratitude is the most healing energy and when we smile we send a message to our body to rebalance, to cultivate health and vitality, we feel inner joy and connection to others

Needs fulfilled: acknowledgment, appreciation, award, celebration, kindness, lightness, mourning, recognition, reward, sharing, validation

Chemicals triggered: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Endorphin, GABA.

Some ways or practices to increase this tank:

  1. you can practice gratitude with HEART-FOCUSED Breathing (especially the “Quick coherence” technique), Loving Kindness Meditation & Inner Smile Meditation. After following heart-coherence daily practices and the “Resilience Advantage” course with Lara Lucaccioni in the first half of 2021, I found so much benefit from the practices that I recently became an “Add Heart Facilitator” with the HeartMath institute. At the moment they also have a FREE 90 minutes course (The HeartMath Experience) which includes videos of each of their heart-focused breathing techniques.
  2. you can practice unconditional LAUGHTER (also known as Laughter Yoga), which really is what I have come to call a “super yellow factor” since it really embraces and nurtures all the nine petals tanks. After deepening my knowledge and practices of Laughter Yoga with Dr. Kataria and Lara Lucaccioni in the first half of 2021, in August I became a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and I now offer a number of programs to bring laughter to your life and business team. Check my related content on YouTube, join me in my FREE monthly LaugherZoom (where we practice unconditional laughter for 10 to 20 minutes), or send me an email or book a call to discuss your needs and how I can add value.
  3. Since this “petal” is also about fulfilling our need for mourning, here is a useful article providing perspective on the grief that this pandemic is requiring more and more for over 18 months now: That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief by Scott Berinato, HBR.


These are just some highlights for each of the 9 Yellow Factor of Happiness. To share knowledge and practices acquired through experience and all the courses I followed in the past 10 years, in 2022 we are running a new “Happiness Driven Growth” leadership program. It will be available on-demand as an in-company program and run once a year as an open program for a selected group of 8 to 10 leaders. The program will focus on each of these factors during 9 sessions (one every 21 days over 6 months) of ~3 hours covering related Science (Chemicals, Heart Coherence, NVC, Positive Intelligence, …) and related Practices (Qigong, Laughter Yoga, Intuitive Painting, Meditation, …) plus having community and buddy elements between sessions. The goal will be to gain knowledge & learn practices on how to cultivate more happiness in

  • your core, your life as an individual
  • your inner circle (family, friends, and team)
  • your outer circle (employees, clients, and society/community)

Would you like to learn more? Check out the program here, send me an email if you have questions, and apply to be part of the selected group that will join the open program. 

Tip 10. Pay extra attention to your Nutrition

Eat foods that strengthen your immune system! Two key resources here:

Tip 11. Pay extra attention to your Mental Health

In this time when we most need to reduce stress and anxiety and allow our body to rest and recharge by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (which slows the heart and lowers the blood pressure, allowing recovery after a stressful event), yoga and meditation are two of the best and most effective ways to nourish our body. Here are just a few of my favorite resources that I personally use (already mentioned above in Play and Smile):


Tip 12. Nurture your happy chemicals with a DOSE of happiness

Do any of the activities suggested below in order to provide your body with a DOSE of chemicals that most contribute to our happiness and well-being! Especially laughter which provides a complete DOSE in just 10 minutes!

Chemicals & Actions for a Dose of Happiness

Tip 13. Nurture your curiosity and love of learning!

Here are some tips for:

  1. Podcasts:


  1. Music:


  1. Webinars:


  1. Self-tests that you can take

As recommended also in tips 5 and 7, here are a few tests I recently took for myself:

  1. VIA Character Strengths (PS. This test is now also the basis of our new Uppiness Game session)
  2. PrinciplesYou groups 28 archetypes
  3. Brené Brown Wholehearted Inventory
  4. Positive Intelligence and Saboteurs


  1. Movies and series

This list could be very long but I’ll limit it to two recommendations:

  • Movie: Yes Day (As recommended in Play tip)
  • Series: Once Upon a Time (on Disney+) is a pretty remarkable fantasy series, highly engaging especially as of season 2 when it keeps building on and on, giving a twist to every possible fairytale we have grown up with. From Snow-white to Pinocchio to Frozen, to Red Hoot, to Robin Hood, to Captain Hook everyone is involved in this series in the fight between heroes and villains, between light and darkness even within oneself.


  1. Books
    My reading list this summer includes and more (see picture):
  • And, if you don’t know them already, allow me to share with you my very own books, especially the ones including colorful intuitive paintings and the uplifting quotes inspired by each of them, which also make great gifts for your friends
    • Words of Wisdom Nurturing our World: an uplifting gift for yourself, friends, or colleagues. Filled with 26 original works of art and inspiring quotes about life, let this album become your companion and your go-to place when you need inspiration and motivation. It will enrich your life with color and uplifting quotes, as well as foster moments of introspection, inspiring and encouraging your personal growth journey.
    • My Circle of Connections: A special memory album for friends or colleagues. This is 120 pages “vriendenboek” (something popular in the Netherlands for kids) or a “friends book” for grown-ups, which alternates 26 paintings with 3 fill-in pages, offering the possibility to collect handwritten notes sharing “favorite things” & memories from 25 friends or colleagues and the book owner.


Tip 14. My 4 goals for this period

My 4 goals for this summer break:

    1. Maximize Health and what contributes to H.A.P.P.I.N.E.S.S. D.O.S.E.
    2. Minimize Stress and Anxiety
    3. Prioritize Self-Care
    4. Enjoy undivided time with family and friends

Tip 15. My (work in progress) KEY to Happiness

I happened to visualize it during a Yoga session in December 2019 and is still a work in progress for me (especially for the E part!):

just BE and BE

  • Kind
  • Enough
  • You!


What are your tips to cultivate happiness and keep your petal’s pollen tank full? What are your favorite practices? Share them with us in the comments!

I wish you a wonderful (summer) break, full of sun and warmth, and, most of all, full of 4 Rs: rest, relax, recharge and reconnect (with yourself and your loved ones!)

Stay safe! Stay healthy! Stay Yellow!

Be human! Be kind! Keep smiling! Start laughing!


What can you do next?

* Check out our keynote, sessions, training, and open programs offering to Nurture your Happiness Driven Growth! If you would like to know more about how to pursue Happiness Driven Growth in your company or would like us to deliver an engaging talk or masterclass about it at your event, get in touch or simply follow Rosaria Cirillo on LinkedIn & Instagram to receive her inspirational DOSE of Happiness.

**  Help us spread happiness and well-being. If you found this post insightful, please help me share it, and let’s bring together more happiness into the world. Thank you!

*** Yellow Factor is available for sale on Amazon/Kindle. Find links to your local Amazon store here. Did you already enjoy reading Yellow Factor and want to help us inspire more people? Helps us spread the word by sharing the quote that most resonated with you and by posting a picture of you with our book on social media using hashtags: #YFITW #YellowFactorInTheWorld #YellowFactorQuote #choosehappiness

**** Customer experience is the perception customers have of the interactions with your company along every touchpoint and communication. It’s their truth. Great customer experiences don’t happen by chance. Instead, they require the orchestration of six disciplines across different teams and the mastering of six competencies. Would you like to learn more and grow your Customer Experience competencies? Get in touch to find out more about our HCX Masterclasses and HCX (Human-Centred and Happiness-Contributing Experiences) approach.


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