A few decades ago, research began to track the science of positive psychology (the study of values, strengths, virtues, and/or talents). Are there any traits that can predict whether or not youâ€™ll perform strongly in your chosen career or within certain roles?
Much of the research has found one common predictor… your level of happiness!
Shawn Achor outlined in his 2011 TED Talk, â€śYour brain at positive performs significantly betterâ€¦ your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels riseâ€¦ your brain is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral, or stressed.â€ť
Who wouldnâ€™t want to perform better just by being a happier person? But with all of the stresses of everyday, itâ€™s often much easier to say, â€śIâ€™ll be happyâ€ť than it is to become that way.
So letâ€™s explore some proven tips as to how to be happier within our everyday lives.
1. Pay Attention to Your Emotions
Today, science leads us to believe that you can almost choose to be a happier person by paying attention to the workings of your mind. Throughout the day, pay attention to your thoughts.
If you start to recognize pessimism, resentment, or anger, actively decide to change your thoughts to be more positive, grateful, or forgiving.
In the Rick Foster and Greg Hicks book, “The 9 Choices of Happy People,” they write, â€śIntention is the active desire and commitment to be happyâ€¦ Itâ€™s the decision to consciously choose attitudes and behaviors that lead to happiness over unhappiness.â€ť
Choose to be happy and your life will lead that direction.
The World Health Organization defines health as, â€śâ€¦a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.â€ť And this definition makes perfect sense, especially when you notice how much each of those types of â€śhealthâ€ť are inter-related.
The Cochrane Review analyzed 23 different studies between exercise and depression and found a simple conclusion: There is a â€ślarge clinical impact.â€ť
So if you want to know how to be happier, the answer is simple: exercise and eat well to keep your mind healthy and positive.
3. Start a Gratitude Journal
If you want to learn how to be happier, especially on days when youâ€™re feeling in a slump, creating a gratitude journal is the way to go.
This is because science is consistently showing us that people who are inherently grateful have greater positive emotions, a greater sense of belonging, and a lower incidence of depression and stress.
To cultivate a sense of gratitude, relax each night before going to sleep with a journal and favorite pen to write 5-10 things you are grateful for from across the day.
Some days will seem simpler than others, but your mind will become familiar with the activity and will start to create the list each day. Ultimately, you will feel thankful for each day you are alive.
Holding on to something such as a transgression is a sign of chronic stress. Thereâ€™s no need to put yourself in that slump! There are several potential methods for forgiving others, but the lesson behind them all is that we shouldnâ€™t just â€śforgetâ€ť whatâ€™s occurred and mull over it in our minds for years on end.
We have to spend time to understand why we are truly hurt and learn to forgive completely. Similar to writing a gratitude journal, forgiveness will become second nature to us.
This will allow us to fight against any feelings of bitterness or resentment, and will leave our minds free to be happy.
5. Find Your â€śFlowâ€ť
When our minds are actively engaged in a meaningful activity that challenges our abilities (aka â€śflowâ€ť activities), they are at their happiest. Unfortunately, one of our most used leisure activities, watching television, is when they are least engaged and usually least happy.
Though finding your â€śflowâ€ť activities can involve a bit more time than just walking out the door, too, as â€śflowâ€ť activities always involve an initial investment of time before they become enjoyable.
For example, if you had just picked up a tennis racquet for the first time, you probably wouldnâ€™t find your first tennis match to be incredibly enjoyable. But after practice and learning the skills necessary, it would become an activity you do for fun.
Involving our minds in these â€śflowâ€ť activities will keep them active, engaged, and happier.