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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:

  1. optimism (believing that our behavior will eventually matter)
  2. social connection (the breadth and depth of our relationships)
  3. the way we perceive stresses (as challenges instead of threats)
  4. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

If you know of others, perhaps your leadership team or a friend, who would be interested in learning more or receiving this and other blog posts, please feel free to forward to those individuals.

If you are interested in bringing me to your organization for a refresh training or coming to a public training, I’d love to hear from you. Send me a comment or email at beckylang@icloud.com.

Tranform Conversations. Transform Lives.
Dr. Becky Lang

“Dr. Lang’s training provided me with a better understanding of the motivational interviewing process. The skills I learned from her training have helped me feel more engaged and thoughtful when listening and talking with those around me. Dr. Lang is energetic, knowledgeable, passionate and provides a great learning environment.”

Nancy AdrianseBSDH, Oral Health Manager, Iowa Primary Care Association

“The training I received in Becky’s motivational interviewing class was invaluable. It laid a wonderful foundation for me to effectively empower my patients to develop and implement positive changes for their health. Becky created such a nurturing, nonthreatening environment that allowed me to freely learn and practice. This is certainly a class I can recommend to anyone wanting to learn to assist others with behavior changes.”

Robin GeorgeRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“At the YMCA, we have worked with Dr. Becky Lang for over a decade now to help us shift and shape our culture. As an organization committed to strengthening our community, the coaching and training skills that Dr. Lang has provided have helped us immensely. With her education and guidance she has helped us establish a culture that focuses on building meaningful relationships with our members, focusing on their needs, and coaching them towards success in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Lang has trained all levels of our staff from our front line Wellness Coaches to our Executive Directors and Leadership Teams. Her on-going support has allowed the coaching-culture to come alive in our organization.”

Kim Stewart Kim Stewart Director of Operations, YMCA of Greater Des Moines

“The training Becky provided has been one of the most rewarding nursing experience I have had in 30 years. The style of interviewing and teaching patients is rewarding and positive. Her techniques drive the sessions to be more personal and patient-centered. Through Becky’s teaching, I was comfortable to practice and get familiar with the motivational interviewing process. Becky is an exceptional trainer and I recommend her training to all health coaches and educators.”

Sandy LovelessRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“The motivational interviewing techniques Becky teaches allow patients to set goals and work toward changes that are important to them. Patients feel in control of their own health and allow me to be in a more supportive roll. Becky has a positive and uplifting spirit that makes her classes extremely enjoyable.”

Tyra CarltonRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“Rebecca Lang was a respected colleague who diligently served as a teacher and mentor to hundreds of students over her long career at Grand View University. I had the distinct pleasure to work with Becky and regularly witness her vocation to Wellness education. She motivates those around her by a strong and genuine commitment to a lifestyle which promotes health and well-being.”

Katharina TumpekPhD, Professor and former Chair, Dept. of Health Promotions, Grand View University

“It has been a pleasure to work with Becky Lang over the last 25 years. Within a variety of contexts in the wellness arena, I have witnessed Dr. Lang’s mastery as a wellness educator, a health coach, a professor, and, most recently, as a health coaching trainer. I could go on at length about Dr. Lang’s passion, enthusiasm, high energy, wisdom, and deep knowledge in health promotion and behavior change. One of the attributes that impresses me most, though, is her ability to create a relaxed, fun, interactive, and content-rich training environment. Her refreshingly supportive, inviting, and empathic style of training and coaching allows learners to take risks, experiment, try on new skills, and participate authentically in role play exercises without feeling awkward and intimidated. Through Dr. Lang’s coaching and training, people learn–often more than they imagined.”

Jill NorrisRN, MPH, PCMH-CCE, Director, Care Management, University of Iowa Health Alliance