Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happiness Helpers

My quick summary of "The Happiness Advantage" which is a PBS special advertising an eCourse. You can delve into this much further, but here are some straightforward, dare I say simple, things anyone can do starting now that will help you be happier, and help you influence the people around you to be happier. If you do any or all of these things for 21 days each and and notice yourself feeling good enough to do more, go get the book, DVD, and/or eCourse. (Or, go donate to and get them that way!) He claims there are 5 things, but I think I split them up more than he did but they're all good.

Once a day for 21 days:
  1. WRITE DOWN 3 specific things that made you happy or grateful today. (Not "I'm feeling good" but "I was healthy enough to do a pushup") This gets you thinking of good things, which makes them easier to spot and remember in the future.
  2. Write down, for 2 minutes, the details of a meaningful experience. This exercise focuses on the nitty gritty of why and how an event was meaningful, beautiful, funny, or endearing. It's practice looking at details instead of the broad strokes and sound bites.
  3. Smile! Consciously add 3 smiles a day. This is one that my brother relies heavily on - when you see someone in the hall, smile and nod or say hi. When someone provides you a service, look them in the eye and smile at them. When a meeting is getting tense, just find a reason to smile. They're contagious too.
  4. Youthful thinking and words. Check your vocabulary such that when you can, think about words with youthful and positive connotations, textured instead of wrinkles, smoky instead of gray, etc... They found people who focused on how they lived and thought 20 years earlier improved their memories and attitudes and postures in the space of a week. (If you were an unrelieved bigot or bum back then, maybe you can think of it as going back while knowing better, perhaps.)
  5. Fun 15! Add a mindful, fun activity. This needs to be energetic, but you have to pick something you think is fun. It's ok to go longer than 15 minutes to keep enjoying your fun moment.
  6. Write a 2 minute note to someone in your social network to share something positive. Take a minute to look up an address and write an envelope, then write and send a note to someone.

Like any plan, overdoing it might not lead to the best results. Pick one of these things and give it a shot. Then try another one. Even if you don't keep doing these things deliberately, they will help you find and keep the more delightful things while crowding out the less delightful things. You'll see how straightforward it is to make a change in your own life and the lives of friends and family so you can live happier ever after.

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