Have you ever attended a conference and heard a speaker that made a huge impact on you? I sure have. One of my favorite speakers was Shawn Achor, Psychologist and best-selling author. I heard Achor speak almost ten years ago at Grand View University where I was a Professor of Health Promotion.
What was so impactful for me that day was how he describe his research on happiness and then applied it to our everyday life. I have followed Shawn through the years and purchased and read many of his books. Achor has made a career studying the science of happiness.
The word happiness is defined by Achor as “the joy you feel striving toward your potential.” Happiness in this definition cannot be stripped from meaning and from growth. It is much richer than defining happiness as simple pleasure which can be fleeting depending on the weather and external circumstances. Happiness can be sustained. What sustains long-term happiness, Achor believes, is universal across all cultures.
There are four main qualities that sustain happiness:
- optimism (believing that our behavior will eventually matter)
- social connection (the breadth and depth of our relationships)
- the way we perceive stresses (as challenges instead of threats)
- meaning (the connection between our actions and our values)
“Scientifically, happiness is a choice,” Achor says. He explains that research has shown you can rewire your brain to make yourself happy by practicing happiness activities every day for three weeks. And within 30 days, those habits change the neuropathways of our brains and turn us into lifelong optimists.
These six daily happiness exercises have shown to make anyone, all ages, happy, or simply happier, according to Achor.
- Gratitude Exercises. Write down three things you’re grateful for that occurred over the last 24 hours. They don’t have to be profound. It could be a really good cup of coffee or the warmth of a sunny day.
- The Doubler. Take one positive experience from the past 24 hours and spend two minutes writing down every detail about that experience. As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint.
- The Fun Fifteen. Do 15 minutes of a fun cardio activity, like gardening or walking the dog, every day. The effects of daily cardio can be as effective as taking an antidepressant.
- Meditation. Every day take two minutes to stop whatever you’re doing and concentrate on breathing. Even a short mindful break can result in a calmer, happier you.
- Conscious act of kindness. At the start of every day, send a short email or text praising someone you know. Our brains become addicted to feeling good by making others feel good.
- Deepen Social Connections. Spend time with family and friends. Our social connections are one of the best predictors for success and health, and even life expectancy.
Which one are you currently doing? Which one of these exercises will you do today? We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The challenge is to do this every day for three weeks until it becomes how we look at events in our life, to rewire our brain.
Which one will you begin today?
Drop me a comment and let me know which exercise you have chosen.
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