Sounds great, but what can we do now that will set the foundation for a fulfilled, happy and meaningful life?
The Happiness Muscle: Neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson compares happiness to a muscle that can be developed with practice. It's like tennis; you may not play at Wimbledon next week, but with practice, your skills will definitely grow, and you will end up seeing real results. So how can we develop that happiness muscle, and start pumping up our happiness?
Here are 10 easy tips that can make a real difference:
- Know Your Strengths: Ask 1 or 2 people who know you well and care about you what they see as your 3 greatest strengths. Do the same for them. Then find ways to use those strengths every day.
- Choose your Mindset: When something bad happens you can either choose to put yourself down and succumb to the "inner critic" or recognize that the "inner critic" is trying to get a foothold. Instead, look into what there is to learn from the situation. Let's say a presentation didn't go well. You can either say: "I'm always bad at this type of thing" (Dr. Carol Dweck calls this the fixed mindset) or: "Next time I'll prepare and practice more." (The growth mindset) Which perspective will you choose?
- Gratitude: Before you go to sleep, think of three things that you are grateful for: a good conversation with a friend, a yummy dinner, finding that thing you thought you lost ... whatever it is -- whether small or large. Believe it or not, this simple acknowledgement will actually change your perspective -- and your brain!
- Clean your Lens: People that look at life through anger often encounter anger in others. By the same token, happy people tend to bring out more happiness in others and attract more of the good stuff into their lives. Keeping your lens clear by being on the lookout for happiness makes it show up in the most unexpected places.
- Know your Happiness Triggers: Think of the top 5 times in your life that you have felt happy and figure out the reason why these situations were "happiness triggers." Which provided short term happiness, and which ones give more long term meaning to your life? Try adding more happiness triggers into your daily life.
- Connect: Share an experience with a friend; tell each other the best thing that happened last week and why. Relationships rule.
- Altruism: Do something nice for someone else. The fastest way to make yourself happy is to make others happy.
- Affection: Hug someone or be hugged, pet your pet, hold hands, cuddle.
- Take it down a notch: SIMPLIFY! Instead of multitasking, put one LESS thing into your day!
- Remember your Body: Give your body a break. Walk it around, give it some real food that has not been turned into a sugar puff, pretzel or processed creation. Get some sleep -- your mood, mind and body will smile.