“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” – Aristotle
“Dare to be different. Change your life and seek long-term happiness from within by adopting a lifestyle that I guarantee will pay dividends throughout your entire life.” – Mike Anderson
How often do you make decisions based on whether or not you think they will bring you more happiness? For most of us, the answer is pretty much all the time.
The desire to be happy is behind so much of what we seek – money, power, fame, beauty, love, wisdom, impact, etc. We’re taught that when we get those things, then we’ll be happy. But as so many unfulfilled and depressed “successful” people can attest, that’s not always the case.
Fortunately, happiness can be a place to come from, rather than a place to get to. As famed Buddhist monk and scholar, Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “There is no way to happiness – happiness is the way.”
Be Happy First
Happiness doesn’t depend on what happens to us, but rather on what we choose to do and how we choose to be. “Happy people don’t have the best of everything. They make the best of everything,” writes Neil Pasricha, Harvard MBA, entrepreneur, and author. “Be happy first.”
Happiness can be cultivated through practice. Simple activities have been proven time and time again to have a positive impact on our moods and rewire our brains. In doing these practices, we create an upward spiral to a happier, healthier life.
Pasricha presents seven of the most effective methods in his book, The Happiness Equation. As he states, “many of these studies have been discussed in journals, conferences, keynotes, and research reports. If you do any of these seven things for two straight weeks, you will feel happier.”
Let’s explore how.
7 Practices To Train Yourself To Be Happy
Warning: regularly practicing one (or many) of these seven things will make you happier:
- Three Walks
- The 20-Minute Replay
- Random Acts of Kindness
- A Complete Unplug
- Hit Flow
- 2-Minute Meditations
- Five Gratitudes
As a bonus, they might also make you kinder, more productive, and more fun to be around.
Time to go deeper.
1. Three Walks.
Studies have shown exercise to be as effective as Zoloft for treating depression. Not only is it incredibly beneficial for our brains, but it’s also great for our energy and overall health, and you can get the benefits starting with just a few walks a day.
2. The 20-Minute Replay.
Did you experience something positive today? How about last week, month, or year? Set aside 20 minutes to write about it, replaying the event and the associated emotions. Enjoy the ensuing happiness boost.
3. Random Acts of Kindness.
We’re biologically wired to benefit from doing good. When you do something nice for someone, not only do you get a boost of the feel-good chemical serotonin but so does the person you help. Most impressively, so does everyone who WATCHED you do that beautiful deed.
4. A Complete Unplug.
Whether it’s device-free mornings, a one-day digital vacation, or a multi-week macro-level disconnect, taking time off from constant stimuli and interruption to focus on recovery and renewal is vital.
5. Hit Flow.
Have you ever been lost in the moment, totally involved in what you were doing, performing at peak levels almost effortlessly? That’s flow, and it exists in the sweet spot where our skills match the challenges we face. If you’re feeling bored, find something more challenging. If you’re overwhelmed, focus on either increasing your skills or starting with a less difficult task.
6. 2-Minute Meditations.
Meditation is one of my fundamental practices (along with exercise and journaling), and I recently committed to helping support 5% of the world’s population in developing a mindfulness practice. More on that to come later, but for now, know that it’s way easier than you think, and the benefits are significant. Start with just one or two minutes a day!
7. Five Gratitudes.
What we appreciate, appreciates! It’s ancient wisdom that continues to ring true. As Socrates said, “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” So find five things, big and small, that you can be grateful for. And then make it a practice.
Today’s The Day
So, what is one thing from the list that you’re going to start doing – today?