Most of us think we’ll be happy when.
When we get the job/raise/promotion.
When we lose weight/tone up/run the marathon.
When we find a partner/get married/have kids. (Or when the kids move out!)
You’ll be happy when your external circumstances finally line up in your favor, right?
Well…no, actually. According to the science of happiness (yes, that’s a thing), our happiness actually has very little to do with what’s going on outside of us and a lot more to do with what’s going on inside of us, namely how we view our circumstances.
Where Happiness Really Comes From
In his TedTalk, "The Happy Secret to Better Work," psychologist and happiness researcher Shawn Achor explains how this works and how we can harness the power of happiness to improve our lives now.
Some of the findings on happiness might surprise you!
Did you know that…
- Happiness is often a precursor to success and getting what we want in life, not a result of it. In fact, 75% of job success is predicted by optimism, social support, and the ability to see stresses as a challenge and not a threat.
- Our external circumstances actually only predict 10% of our happiness. The other 90% is how we perceive those circumstances.
- Happiness makes us smarter, more open to options and opportunities, more resourceful, and more creative!
- When we have a positive lens, or a more positive way of seeing our lives and the world around us, we are happier.
We can change how we think and perceive our lives!
So how can we learn to be happier?
At Redmond, we like to talk about “lenses,” or perspectives and beliefs through which we see the world. We use these lenses as tools to help us in our everyday lives and work.
We can adopt positive lenses, or “rose-tinted glasses” through which to view the world.
Here are some examples of positive lenses and beliefs we often use at Redmond:
Assume positive intent. We believe people are basically good and want to contribute. We don’t think anyone is “out to get us.”
Look for what went right, not just what went wrong. This helps us focus on the positive and create more of that rather than just targeting problems.
Remember that the story you’re telling yourself is just that—a story. Your thoughts, positive or negative, aren’t necessarily reality.
5 Tips to Learn to Be Happier
Here are some other simple, research-backed practices Shawn Achor recommends to train your brain to be happier!
#1: Gratitude journaling.
Every day, write down 3 things you’re grateful for, and try not to repeat them! This teaches us to pay attention to positive things and even find something to be grateful for when we’re going through something challenging.
#2: Journal for 2 minutes about a positive experience from past 24 hours.
It’s easy to forget the small, positive experiences, but this encourages us to shine a spotlight on them and get into a happier frame of mind.
We all know that meditation is good for us. Sitting for a few minutes in silence each day can help us observe our thoughts and realize they’re just that—thoughts, and not necessarily reality. It also helps us learn to relax wherever we are so we can tap into that sense of calm when we need it.
#4: Random acts of kindness
Helping other people feel happy makes us happy! Make an effort to work small acts of kindness into your day, even if it’s just giving a sincere compliment or telling someone you appreciate them.
The mood-boosting benefits of exercise are well-documented. You’ve probably heard of endorphins, hormones your body produces when you exercise that lift your mood.
In fact, regular, moderate exercise has been shown to be as effective as anti-depressants at treating mild to moderate depression, and possibly even more effective at managing these conditions in the long term!
Make sure to move around for at least 30 minutes every day for maximum happiness benefits.
You’ve got the power
You have a lot more control over how you feel than you might think! Happiness is a learnable skill. It’s not something that just happens to you.
It starts with noticing how you view the world, and making the conscious effort to try on a new lens when you notice you don’t like what you see. It’s training your brain to scan for the positive. It’s taking time to acknowledge the positive instead of brushing those experiences off before you jump into solving the next crisis.
Try these practices every day for a few weeks and see how you feel!
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