I often wonder about the formula that makes one person happy, and another miserable, one person stressed and another full of life, especially when facing physical and health challenges.
I stumbled upon “The Happiness Advantage” a TED talk by Shawn Achor, a very funny Harvard trained Psychologist. His work is especially important, because he shows that happiness remains a choice for those struggling with any chronic illness, like asthma/COPD, or Autoimmune disease, you name it. We think “I’ll be happy when I’m done with——— my student loans, after I graduate and pay off the mortgage, or after I get married”, you fill in the blank.
But this does not work! Changes and challenges keep coming. It is not the strongest and the most intelligent that makes it. It is the one who is most adaptable to change that survives, so let’s train ourselves to do it happily.
People come in two flavors really, happy optimists and unhappy pessimists. Those in the first camp do so much better in life. They sail through the challenges, but they work at it. The greatest discovery is you too CAN teach yourself to be happy, at this very moment in your life, and be more productive at your job and healthier in your mind and body. Here is how you get started:
Challenge and rewire your brain to be positive at the current stage of your life in 21 days
- Journal 3 New Gratitudes, 2 minutes daily– Write down 3 things you are thankful for in a diary or a free app like iJournals. Research shows this significantly improves your optimism, and re-trains your brain patterns to scan the world and see the glass that’s half full. Describe at least 1 positive experience you had in the last 24 hrs. Let your brain relive it, and transform your mind from a task-based thinker, to a meaning based thinker.
- Exercise daily– Even 10 minutes a day to teach your brain that your behavior matters.
- Meditate-For 10 minutes a day focus on your breath going in and out. Get over the cultural ADHD we have all created by doing multiple things. Break the cycle of negative effects of multitasking. Kids can do this from a very young age and start a habit that will carry them through life.
- Random acts of kindness– write a quick email, a text, or a card, thanking or somehow praising someone in your work or social network. Children can write or draw a picture. This significantly increases your feelings of social support.
Now go practice being happy!
Maryam Zarei MD FAAAAI
TED TALKS:Life Hack 2011
Shawn Achor-The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of positive Psychology that fuel success and performance at work. September 2010.