The Happiness Advantage
These five steps to authentic happiness are based on the positive psychology research done by Shawn Achor at the University of Harvard. The main goal of this recipe for happiness is to REVERSE the outdated formula for happiness and success that many of us have been programmed with:
“If I work hard I will be more successful. If I am successful THEN I’ll be happier.”
This formula is completely ineffective because every time you experience success, almost immediately your brain changes the threshold to what success looks like. Think about it, when was the last time that you told yourself: “When I get this…when I experience this…when I achieve this…I’ll be happy.” Only to find out that the happiness which resulted from being successful didn’t last very long.
The reason for our short lived sense of happiness after being successful at something is that our brains work in the opposite order. Instead when we raise our level of positiveness and happiness in the present moment our brain experiences what researchers call the Happiness Advantage: when your brain is positive it performs significantly better than it does in negative stress.
“If happiness is at the other side of success, your brain never gets there.” -Shawn Archor
When you embody the Happiness Advantage your intelligence, creativity and energy levels rise. In fact every single business outcome improves because your brain in a positive state is 30% more productive, allowing you to work better, faster and more intelligently. When you are positive dopamine floods your brain making you happier and turns on all the learning centers in your brain.
“Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” -Tony Robbins
Five Practical Steps To Authentic Happiness
Below are proven ways to train and RE-WIRE your brain to become more positive. Countless of people including myself have substantially increased our level of authentic happiness by doing the following steps for 21 consecutive days:
1) Write down at least 3 things you are grateful for. It is best if you get yourself a journal that is solely for writing things you are grateful for.
The act of writing down will anchor your thoughts and engage your nervous system. If you only think about gratitude, it will be much less effective because your mind tends to rapidly drift from thought to thought. As you write down 3 new things you are grateful for everyday, you will program your Reticular Activating System (the part of your brain that filters information) to notice even more positive events and things to be grateful for.
Gratitude is one of the highest frequency emotions you can cultivate. And it is simply impossible to be grateful and angry, scared or sad at the same time.
2) Exercise everyday for at least 20 minutes. Ideally you would do an intense cardio workout a High Intensity Interval Training. Personally I’m currently doing P90X3 and jumping on a mini trampoline 10 minutes a day.
This will get your blood and oxygen flowing to vital organs and your brain. You will also detoxify as you sweat and you will be taking deep inhales and exhales. People who practice depression have shallow breathing, bad posture and rarely move.
Another great option that is totally free is running. When you get the runner’s high, this is the perfect time to do your affirmations or incantations. Affirmations will not work if your physiology is not congruent with the energy of the affirmation you are repeating. But when you are in a peak state your affirmations will be amplified and ingrained in your entire field.
If you cannot run or do an intense cardio workout then walk or do yoga. Movement is life, when we stop moving we start dying. If you have the money you can also invest in a good quality mini trampoline like the Cellerciser which is even more efficient and effective than running, plus you can reap the far superior results in less time because you are literally working out every single cell in your body every time you jump.
3) Practice at least one random act of kindness a day. The act of giving or helping someone else has very powerful effects on your brain and your emotional state. When we choose to contribute to the lives of others, we go beyond ourselves and we not only become happier but we experience a sense of fulfillment.
One of the greatest things we can all do in life is to make other people’s lives better by sharing our knowledge, kindness, love, blessings, wealth or whatever we can genuinely give. When we think we don’t have enough or we are struggling, the act of helping someone else who is experiencing an even greater challenge can put a lot of things into perspective. There are infinite ways you can perform random acts of kindness.
And even better is when you can perform a random act of kindness anonymously.
4) Practice meditation for at least 20 minutes a day. We live in an ADHD world where our attention is constantly being drawn to something novel, exciting or stressful. Meditation helps synchronize your brain hemispheres, stimulates your Pre-Frontal Cortex and helps you stay focused and concentrated on your tasks.
It also increases dopamine levels, which are being severely depleted by our addictions to social media. Mediation also reduces cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. You can repeat a mantra, stare at a mandala, notice your breathing, listen to your heartbeat or you can use binaural beats meditation technology to effortlessly get faster results.
5) Journal at least one positive experience you had during the day. This process allows your brain to re-live the positive experience.
Bonus Happiness Tip
Personally I would add to this list incorporating a diet that is high in organic and live whole foods. What you eat can greatly affect how you feel at any given moment. Inflammation is one of the biggest culprits behind being sick, avoid fried foods and decrease your meat consumption. When your brain has the right nutrients and is not suffering from inflammation you are going to feel much better.
I guarantee you that if you do all these simple steps for 21 consecutive days you will find yourself significantly happier. And when you become happier the universe you will resonate more and therefor attract people, places, times, things and events that enhance your joy.
Remember that no outer experience of success or any relationship can bring you lasting happiness if you are not already happy. Take charge of your happiness and be the absolute embodiment of joy regardless of outside circumstances!