A favourite author of the 10Eighty team, Shawn Achor, says “happiness is actually a choice for the brain.”
The better you get at scanning the world for the positive, the better you get at overcoming problems. It’s not that you don’t see them; you actually get better being able to rally the resources you need to be able to solve those problems as opposed to languishing in constant scanning of the world for the threats and hassles that need to be dealt with.
Given that the first day of this week may have been Blue Monday we’re posting some 10Eighty positivity.
Looking for positives
You can rewire your brain to make yourself happy by practising simple happiness exercises and within 30 days, those habits change the neuropathways of the brain and turn us into lifelong optimists. These six daily happiness exercises are proven to make anyone, from a 4-year old to an 84-year old, happy, or simply happier, Achor says.
- Gratitude exercises – write down three things you’re grateful for that happened in the last 24 hours. Not necessarily profound, perhaps a really good cup of coffee or a sunny day.
- The Doubler – take a 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Making your own luck
Achor, in his inspiring book The Happiness Advantage, demonstrates that our attitudes have very real implications:
You are on your lunch break, waiting in line at a crowded bank for a teller, among a group of fifty people. A robber comes in and fires his weapon once.
You are shot in the right arm. Take a moment to consider: Do you count yourself lucky or unlucky?
“Lucky” people – those who are gratitude focused – reflect: It could’ve been worse. I could’ve been killed. I could’ve been maimed or paralysed. Negatively-focused people complain: I should’ve gone to lunch earlier. I could’ve gone to the bank another day. Why me?
Positive thinking has practical applications in the workplace, managers should lead in a way that increases employees’ happiness. Do this through acknowledgments and increasing people’s ability to do things that make them happy.
Happiness makes people successful, rather than the other way around and happiness is within our control.