Happiness is a choice. It is a choice that we make everyday. However we have been programmed to think that happiness will come to us once we are successful, if we lose 20 pounds, have lots of money, get that perfect job, find the right love relationship, once we retired, once the kids move out, you fill in the blank. It seems that we have postponed happiness for some time in the future.
According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, the formula for happiness is backwards. Happiness leads to success, not the other way around. When we are more happy and positive, our brains are more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient and we are more productive at work. Our happiness also ripples out and affects people that we come into contact. In other words, the secret to success and happiness is to be happy now.
Shawn recommends 5 concrete things that we can do to be happy.
1. Live with Gratitude – Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day. Gratitude is the realization that we have enough. We have a tendency to focus on what is missing or lacking in our life. This simple act will show you that you have more than you think. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we will attract more abundance and happiness.
2. Journal – Write down 2 or 3 things that happen today that were positive. Write 2 or 3 things that you are looking forward to tomorrow. Write about good things people have said or done for you. Write about good things you will say or do for other people. When we start to write down about the positive experiences and aspects of our life, we gradually erase the negative mindset that we have been carrying around for many years.
3. Exercise – Engage in 15 to 30 minutes of mindful cardio activity. There has been an enormous amount of research on the benefits of exercise. The bottom line is that daily exercise will lower your stress and put you in a better mood.
4. Meditate – Meditation like exercise has shown to have a positive impact on our body and mind. More and more studies are confirming what we all know – happiness and peace of mind is increased in direct proportion to the regularity of our meditations. When we meditate, we build an inner awareness which leads to greater happiness and fulfillment.
5. Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness. Do or say something nice for someone with no motivation or expectation of return. Researchers have found a positive correlation between happiness and kindness. When we are nice to others we feel good about ourselves.