5 habits that lead to more happiness

Takeaway: Happier people are 31% more productive. To become happier by living more positively, every day recall three things you’re grateful for, journal one great experience you had, exercise, meditate, and perform a random act of kindness.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 9s.

Meditation

Happier people are more productive. Way more productive.

According to psychologist (and happiness researcher) Shawn Achor, when your brain is happy, it “performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral, or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, [and] your energy levels rise”.

Achor has deeply explored the topic, and has uncovered that happy people:

  • Are 31% more productive (this one’s my favorite)
  • Have 37% better sales figures
  • Have better, more secure jobs
  • Are better at keeping their jobs
  • Are more resilient
  • Have less burnout

And more. Happy doctors are even “19% faster, [and] more accurate at coming up right the right diagnosis at positive instead of negative, neutral, or stressed”.

According to Achor, “if we can find a way of become positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully as we’re able to work harder, faster, and more intelligently.” Luckily, there are a number of scientifically-proven ways that you can rewire your brain to become happier. Achor suggests five of them you should do every day:

  • Recall three things you’re grateful for. In Achor’s studies, after doing this for 21 days, people’s brains begin to “retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first”, making them much happier.
  • 1015348_43409678Journal one great experience you had. “Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.”
  • Exercise. “Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters”, and it helps you solidify the connection between your actions and their rewards. Exercise is also a great way to focus better.
  • Meditate. Achor: “We find that meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we’ve been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once. It allows our brains to focus on the task at hand.”
  • Perform a random act of kindness. It doesn’t matter if your act of kindness is buying a coffee for the person after you in line, volunteering, or sending a positive email. Achor gets “people, when they open up their inbox, to write one positive email, praising or thanking someone in their social support network.”

According to Achor, these activities done “in just a two-minute span of time, [for] 21 days in a row, [can] actually rewire your brain, allowing your brain to actually rework more optimistically and more successfully. Happiness “turns on all of the learning centers in your brain, allowing you to adapt to the world in a different way”.

Even though two minutes appears to be enough to rewire how you think, I personally think that’s the least you can do, particularly when happier, positive people are 31% more productive.

  • Exercise has played a huge factor in my happiness over the years. I find that if I stop exercising for a month or two, I become way more unhappy and pretty lethargic.

    There are so many scientifically proven benefits to meditations it’s crazy. To be honest, I’ve never really done it. But I decided to devote the month of November to meditation. Should be fun :)

    • So true. I didn’t work out much at the beginning of this project, and felt like shit half of the time. Even though I hit the gym for a couple of hours a day, I still get so much more done, it’s crazy.

      If you’re curious about starting a meditation practice, I wrote a great guide to getting started here :) : http://alifeofproductivity.com/meditation-guide/

      • Thanks for sharing this brother. Heading over there now to read it.

        • Sweet! Let me know if you need a hand with anything – I’ve had a practice for a few years :) Good luck!

  • Exercise has played a huge factor in my happiness over the years. I find that if I stop exercising for a month or two, I become way more unhappy and pretty lethargic.

    There are so many scientifically proven benefits to meditations it’s crazy. To be honest, I’ve never really done it. But I decided to devote the month of November to meditation. Should be fun :)

    • So true. I didn’t work out much at the beginning of this project, and felt like shit half of the time. Even though I hit the gym for a couple of hours a day, I still get so much more done, it’s crazy.

      If you’re curious about starting a meditation practice, I wrote a great guide to getting started here :) : http://ayearofproductivity.com/meditation-guide/

      • Thanks for sharing this brother. Heading over there now to read it.

        • Sweet! Let me know if you need a hand with anything – I’ve had a practice for a few years :) Good luck!

  • I started meditating again this week and damn it, it’s hard! I keep thinking “okay, that’s good enough” or “someone’s going to walk in on me any minute now.”

    I’m also going to try to get myself back into exercising over in the PI. :)

    • I hear ‘ya on the meditation – especially with housemates that’s been a challenge for me, knowing in the back of my head that someone could walk in and disrupt my practice. What I’ve realized is that the ‘thinking about someone walking in’ and other distractions were just one more object for me to overcome during my meditation sessions, which made them a lot more productive!

    • Chrystal Gilbert

      I meditate laying down when I’m getting ready to sleep, even if I inevitably fall asleep during it, just deep breathing and clearing my head of all thought is really helpful.

  • I started meditating again this week and damn it, it’s hard! I keep thinking “okay, that’s good enough” or “someone’s going to walk in on me any minute now.”

    I’m also going to try to get myself back into exercising over in the PI. :)

    • I hear ‘ya on the meditation – especially with housemates that’s been a challenge for me, knowing in the back of my head that someone could walk in and disrupt my practice. What I’ve realized is that the ‘thinking about someone walking in’ and other distractions were just one more object for me to overcome during my meditation sessions, which made them a lot more productive!

    • Chrystal Gilbert

      I meditate laying down when I’m getting ready to sleep, even if I inevitably fall asleep during it, just deep breathing and clearing my head of all thought is really helpful.

  • Satish

    This is really great, thank you!!!

  • Satish

    This is really great, thank you!!!

  • Levi Pierpont

    Kindness is not random:) Kindness is a way of life. Just sayin’. And for me, a Christian, kindness is fruit of the Spirit of God who lives in me!

    But I still understand the idea of trying to be kind in one or two actions a day. But why not try to be kind to everyone? Even co-workers, bosses, in-laws, whatever;)

    -Levi (levipierpont.wordpress.com)

  • apoorvayoga

    Yoga is the natural way to stay happy, healthy and stress free. It is the best home exercises you can do around the house.
    Yoga Teacher Training Rishikesh

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