Strategies to Increase Happiness

Happiness seems to be a BIG topic these days:

  • The Greater Good Science Center offers an on-line course called The Science of Happiness that examines scientifically proven strategies to improve personal levels of happiness. Since the program launched in 2014, this FREE class has had more than 450,000 people enroll who have benefited from the information.
  • Yale University offers a class called Psy157, Psychology, and the Good Life. In less than a week, nearly a quarter of Yale undergraduates enrolled in the class that meets twice-weekly and aims to teach students how to lead happier, more satisfying lives.
  • Shawn Achor, a happiness researcher, author, and advocate of positive psychology, has spoken in “over 50 countries and a wide range of audiences from the White House to the NFL, CEOs in China, doctors in Dubai, school children in South Africa, farmers in Zimbabwe, as well as numerous Fortune 100 companies, the NBA, and the Pentagon.

What, you might ask, is going on?

Well, it’s not a secret anymore. Once Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychology Association (APA), told his colleagues that they needed to focus on human strengths and potential rather than whatever was bothering them, the ball started rolling. As Seligman stated,

“The very good news is quite a number of internal circumstances […] under your voluntary control. If you decide to change them (and be warned that none of these changes come without real effort), your level of happiness is likely to increase lastingly.”

Scientifically proven happiness strategies

So, what are these activities that can produce such life-changing effects?

  • Meditate to increase the size of your frontal lobe, the area of the brain that is most responsible for feeling happy. Consistently practiced, meditation will allow you to better navigate the ups and downs of typical daily life.
  • Exercise three times each week. This will help you physically, mentally, and emotionally!
  • Consciously complete five acts of kindness during one day each week. Practiced this way, the activities will stand out as something special and you will really appreciate the happiness you bring others, and you’ll feel good about your pro-social activities, as well.
  • Look forward to something. Seeing a friend, watching a movie, taking a trip…looking forward to something can increase your endorphins!
  • Take the time to express gratitude to someone else. Letting people know you appreciate how they positively impact your life will make them feel good, and you’ll feel good, as well.
  • Write down three positive events that you noticed over the course of the day. It does not matter if the experiences are “big” incidents; soon your brain will start scanning the landscape just looking for some of those positive acts.

To me, these are some of the hardest ‘simple’ things you can do. No money is involved; a lot of time is not at stake. It’s merely a matter of valuing yourself and your life experiences enough that you decide to set aside the time necessary, and put forth a little bit of effort, to make your life a happier experience.

Dr W

 

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