Last week I wrote that I would present you the 7 Happiness Principles Shawn Achor presents in his book The Happiness Advantage as daily mini posts. One for each of the seven principles, nicely covering 1 week. As a week passes, much happens… re-reading the principles once more, it may not serve well to feed a post with a new principle every day. Each principle is important, each principle contributes, each principle asks for a bit of learning and practice. And posting one each day might just not give anybody the time to act on it. Then it becomes reading, without ‘consequence’. For that, I recommend you read Shawn’s book. For those that want to take action to become happier, I’ll post one principle a week. 7 weeks, happy just before the summer…
So much for science (if you want more of it, read Shawn’s book – it is fully science and research backed)… here are the principles. Keep in mind they can be used by everybody individually to guide oneself into being a bit happier every day. Though not exclusively, they may be used as well, for example, in team settings, adopted by employees following leaders (CEO’s, executives, other highly visible, or highly respected people).
PRINCIPLE #1: THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE
How Happiness Gives Your Brain– and Your Organization– the Competitive Edge
Meditate. Neuroscientists have found that monks who spend years meditating actually grow their left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most responsible for feeling happy. Research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness, lower stress, even improve immune function.
Find Something to Look Forward To. One study found that people who just thought about watching their favorite movie actually raised their endorphin levels by 27 percent. Anticipating future rewards can actually light up the pleasure centers in your brain much as the actual reward will.
Commit Conscious Acts of Kindness. A long line of empirical research, including one study of over 2,000 people, has shown that acts of altruism— giving to friends and strangers alike— decrease stress and strongly contribute to enhanced mental health.
Infuse Positivity Into Your Surroundings. Our physical environment can have an enormous impact on our mindset and sense of well-being. People who flank their computers with pictures of loved ones aren’t just decorating— they’re ensuring a hit of positive emotion each time they glance in that direction. The smartest bosses encourage employees to get a breath of fresh air at least once a day, and they reap the benefits in heightened team performance.
Exercise. Physical activity can boost mood and enhance our work performance in a number of ways, by improving motivation and feelings of mastery, reducing stress and anxiety, and helping us get into flow— that “locked in” feeling of total engagement that we usually get when we’re at our most productive.
Spend Money (but Not on Stuff). Contrary to the popular saying, money can buy happiness, but only if used to do things as opposed to simply have things. Research shows that people given money to spend on others (for instance, by treating a friend to lunch, buying a toy for a younger sister, or donating to charity) are happier at the end of the day than ones given money to spend on themselves.
Exercise a Signature Strength. Everyone is good at something— perhaps you give excellent advice, or you’re great with little kids, or you whip up a mean batch of blueberry pancakes. Each time we use a skill, whatever it is, we experience a burst of positivity. Studies have shown that the more you use your signature strengths in daily life, the happier you become.
There! That’s it. And that’s only 1 principle. Enough for 1 week, right?
Read, try, practice, and feel free to let me know how it went. Feel free to let me know if you have additional tips for people that fit under the “Happiness Advantage” principle?