In our first step to a “New Year, Improved You,” we talked about letting go of the need to be perfect so that we could make room in our lives to do the hard work to continuously improve.
In our second step to a “New Year, Improved You,” Ellen Crupi, our Director of Keen Awareness, shared tips on how we can change our mindsets to allow for self-support of our personal development. It’s about believing in ourselves, so that whatever it is we think we can’t do, we just can’t do, YET.
Did you just read that & think, “But how can I get happy, I have trichotillomania / dermatillomania & it’s ruining my life!?”
Though often considered a soothing mechanism, hair pulling and skin picking aren’t exactly the most happy, smile-inducing activities. But can you get happy despite them?
Yes. Yes you can.
Studies show that happy people far outperform unhappy or neutral people. Studies also show that you can learn to be happy despite your circumstance.
I think that’s worth repeating: Just like you can learn to read, or do math, or the intricacies of Excel spreadsheets, YOU CAN LEARN TO BE HAPPY.
It just takes a desire and practice.
Consider this: In an experiment, 44 doctors were each given a fake patient file and asked to solve for the patient’s medical condition, using the clues inside the file. As an added challenge, the file included an error in diagnosis.
Half the doctors were given medical journals to study before reviewing the file.
The other half were given a bag of candy to enjoy after they completed their assessment.
“The doctors who were primed to be happy” (by way of a sweet reward)… “came to the correct diagnosis twice as face as those who are thinking in the medical node,” shares Shawn Achor, ex-Harvard researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage.
Happy people outperform those who are neutral or miserable.
How to Practice Building Your Happiness Muscles
Based on the experiment, it appears that happy people do better.
How can you become happy? That cute little kid in the video above, said it best…with PRACTICE. Yep, by doing one quick exercise a day, you can build your “happiness muscles.” I know it’s true because I’m doing it too!
Note: The Life Satisfaction Scale used for this test is a widely accepted scientific metric to predict productivity and happiness at work.
Here are 7 exercises to practice, one for each day of the week, to help you build and maintain your happiness muscles:
MEANINGFUL-MONDAY: Jot down your most meaningful experience of the day.
GRATI-TUESDAY: Write down 3 things you are grateful for.
WALK-IT-OUT WEDNESDAY: Take a brisk 10 minute walk today!
“THANK YOU FOR” THURSDAY: Here’s a challenge, start every conversation with “<Person’s name,> thank you for…”
FRIENDLY FRIDAY: Think of one nice thing you can do for someone and do it! Maybe its sending a positive message to someone, or maybe it’s helping someone with their groceries, or maybe it’s buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line?! Let me know how you choose to be friendly this Friday!
“SAT”-URDAY: Sit down in a quiet place. Close your eyes and picture yourself sitting by the bank of a river. Become aware of your breath: In and out. Keep your mind clear. If you find your mind “talking,” notice the thoughts, but don’t engage them. For example, if your mind wanders to a thought, “After this, go get the laundry out of the dryer,” your response would be “I noticed a thought about doing laundry.” And then LET THE THOUGHT GO by visualizing it on a leaf floating away on the flowing river and bring your mind back to silence. Be sure you “SAT” by the river for 3 minutes!
SMILEY-SUNDAY: Did you know it takes more muscles to frown, that it does to smile? Look in the mirror and smile at yourself for 3 minutes.
Are you thinking, “How can I get happy, I have hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting?”
If you are here, chances are your hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting have been ruining your life. But you can get happy despite these issues, with practice. If we had zero adversity in life, it’d be boring. Adversity, struggle, challenges – it’s what makes us who we are.
Are you gonna be the person that lets battered nails or sores on your back or hair on your floor STEAL YOUR HAPPY? Or are you be the person that does the hard work to still find something meaningful that happened today, or find something good to be grateful for today, or walk in peace today, or thank someone in your life today, or be a friend to someone in need today or sit in peace today or smile like you are FILLED WITH HAPPINESS today?
How you feel is how you’ll be. So why not set a daily goal to PRACTICE FEELING HAPPY?!
By actively practicing happiness, you will strengthen the “happiness muscles” in the same way Keen helps you strengthen your “awareness muscles.” The goal in both instances is to make those muscles respond automatically! All it takes is a choice and consistent practice.
Next week, we’ll share our last bit of tips on how you can IMPROVE YOU!
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Love, strength + awareness,