I am currently reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor and listening to the accompanying CD set. Really good stuff! I highly encourage you to get it — it gives you all the latest research on positive psychology focused down into practical steps you can implement right away.
It turns out that we can train our brain to be happier. Isn’t that great to know? Happiness lives in our neurons and we can build those happier neuron paths through some simple daily practices.
Shawn Achor, the author, says that if you commit to doing the practices for 21 days, you will be well on your way. And he’s right — all the latest info we have on habits is that 21-4o days of repetition groove the behavior enough that it becomes a habit.
So think about your current life — in 3-4 weeks, you could either be still going through the same motions or you could have already established new, great habits. Let’s set our site on April 1st and make that happen! What better way to celebrate April Fools’ Day than to be gloriously happy?
Achor says that there are 5 key practices, or habits, that are proven to rewire your brain for happiness. They are:
- Every day, find 3 things that you are grateful for. As you do this each day, you will find more and more things to be grateful for and you’ll groove one of the major pathways that lead to happiness — gratitude! For the first 21 days, you cannot have any repeats on your list. So by the time we get to April 1st, you will have identified 69 things!
- Every day, journal for 2 minutes about the most meaningful experience from the past 24 hours. This allows you relive those meaningful moments, again building up another neuron pathway to happiness.
- Every day, meditate for 2 minutes. This can be as simple as sitting and watching your breath or you can engage in other meditative practices like walking or chanting om. Whatever works for you — but don’t make it big and fancy — just even sitting at your desk or in your car for 2 minutes, watching your breath is all you need.
- Doing one conscious act of kindness per day. Achor recommends writing a 2-minute email to someone in your support network (family, friends, etc.) telling them what you appreciate about them. Choose a different person each — not only will they feel good but as you reach out to 21 different people, you will start to see how amazing your support network is!
- Finally, exercise for 10 minutes a day. Again, it can be as simple as a walk but as little as 10 minutes brings about both physiological and emotional changes that contribute to happiness. And it’s not bad for your butt either so you’ll have an added benefit for getting bathing suit ready!
That’s it! Isn’t that so simple? And they can all be done in under 20 minutes a day!! That’s the amount of commercials in an hour of prime-time TV so this can be as easy as muting the TV during commercials.
As a mom, I want to get my family in on this too, so I’m going to do the gratitude practice at the dinner table so that we can all participate. I’m going to walk at lunch and some time during the day, take a short break to write my kindness email. Just before bed, I will journal about my meaningful experience and then meditate for 2 minutes. That should not only give me a warm feeling to focus on for my meditation but also help get my body ready for sleep.
Think about how to best incorporate these key practices in your life. And join me! Let’s do this every day and see how we feel on April 1st.