Five Tools For More Happiness Now
Those of you who know me well know that I am always exploring the most effective tools to guide clients to experience more joy, to be happier. That’s because I believe that happiness is serious business – and the research supports this. In fact, study after study shows that we become more successful when we are happier and more positive, not the other way around.
We all want to be happy. But we tend to think, I’ll be happier when I have… you fill in the blank: that new car, a bigger house, X amount of revenues in my business, a higher salary, better relationship, the list goes on.
Why Cultivate Happiness?
We are more likely to achieve those things we set out to do in our work and in our lives WHEN we’re working from a state of more happiness. We achieve success more quickly and easily when we are working from a state of more happiness and joy. And the bonus is that we’re also enjoying the process more.
Prefer to watch? Here’s the video:
So how do we reach that more positive state? Especially in these times… there is a great deal of news in our country and in our world that isn’t positive: there’s a lot of violence, extreme weather, these are tumultuous political times regardless of your political persuasion. And this is not just in the U.S. but on a worldwide scale. We truly have plenty to be concerned about.
This is not to mention stressful times you may be experiencing at work or overwhelm in your business… it’s not necessarily easy to find happiness or joy in the moment. It can feel downright elusive.
Some of you may understandably ask: are we justified, is it even ethical, to seek joy, to be seeking happiness in the moment in the midst of such circumstances? Isn’t that selfish?
I suggest that not only yes, happiness is important, but it’s even more critical now than ever. This is because the science, quantum physics, also shows us that we are all way more interconnected than we may realize. So our personal growth and professional development is important not just for our own success and enjoyment but also for the positive impact that it has on those around us… our teams, our community, our families, our loved ones.
What you do, what I do …. the energy, the attitude that we bring to our day and consequently to our lives …. impacts us and has a direct correlation to our own success. And it also impacts the day-to-day experience of everyone that we come into contact with.
How to Cultivate Happiness
So happiness is no joke. And it can be cultivated.
But it can take time to shift old patterns. It’s a bit like going to the gym. If you’re wanting to get fit, get toned, you can’t just do that after one workout. It takes consistent workouts to get into better shape. Cultivating more happiness, a more positive default state, is similar. It’s not about trying these tools once but rather it’s a practice of intentionally cultivating them. And of learning to notice when you’ve shifted into another state so that you can adjust.
The other important thing I want to mention is that these tools are not meant to be a Band-Aid. The practice of cultivating more happiness is not about putting a happy face sticker over something negative, something difficult that’s happened in your life. Instead, it’s about learning to navigate those waters so that the challenges don’t pull you under. It’s about learning and cultivating more resilience.
Every one of us faces challenges. We all have daily struggles. That’s a part of life. This practice is in part about cultivating strategies – and a mindset – to work with and work through adversity. It is not to say we’re cultivating a practice of pretending everything’s ok when it’s not.
Instead, we’re learning to acknowledge and be more accepting of what is in any given moment, and finding tools to be able to shift towards a place of more happiness and joy despite what’s happening around us.
Five Ways to Cultivate More Happiness Now
We all want to feel happy, and each one of us has different ways of getting there. Here are 5 ways you can increase your joie de vivre and bring more happiness into your life:
1. Spend time with people who lift your spirits.
Countless studies have found that positive social relationships are the best guarantee of more well-being and less stress. In short, we’re happiest when we are around others who are also happy. So spend time with family, friends and colleagues who are joyful.
This is not only a prescription for higher performance but it can literally be an antidote for depression. It’s especially important to consider the 4 or 5 people you spend the most time with… are those people supportive of your happiness or are they draining it?
2. Find something to look forward to.
One study found people who just thought about watching their favorite movie actually raised their endorphin levels by 27 percent. Think about a time when you had a vacation coming up that you were looking forward to… chances are that even if your week was busy getting ready to leave, you were in a more positive, a happier, state just looking forward to your trip and your time off.
The research supports this: Anticipating future rewards can actually light up the pleasure centers in your brain much as the actual reward will. So what’s one thing you can look forward to today?
Neuroscientists have found that monks who spend years meditating actually grow their left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most responsible for feeling happy. The good news is that you don’t have to be a monk or spend years in silent meditation to experience benefits… Studies also show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as more awareness and empathy.
And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness, lower stress, even improve our immune function. So meditation is a powerful tool to literally re-wire our brains so that we’re better able to lean into our shared humanity, to be more compassionate and contribute from a place of greater joy.
If you don’t feel drawn to meditate, or if you’d like to pair something more physical along with meditation, try exercise. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body.
So physical activity can not only improve your cardiovascular and muscular conditioning, it can also boost your mood and enhance your work performance. It does this by increasing your motivation and your feelings of mastery, reducing stress and anxiety, and helping you get into flow – that feeling of total engagement that you get when you’re at your most productive. So find – or make – time for your favorite exercise.
5. Be Grateful.
Gratitude is the attitude you want to nurture for more happiness. While it’s often easier to focus on or even complain about what’s not going so well, or to simply take things for granted, try focusing instead on 2 or 3 things you’re truly grateful for each day.
Studies show that simply keeping a list of these things can improve your mood: your happiness and your overall wellbeing. Give gratitude a try and see how your spirits shift toward the positive over time.
Positive emotions flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that not only make us feel good but dial up the learning centers of our brains to higher levels. They help us organize new information, keep that information in the brain longer, and retrieve it faster later on. And they enable us to make and sustain more neural connections. This allows us to think more quickly and creatively, become more skilled at analyzing and problem solving, and even to see and invent new ways of doing things.
In summary, happiness is really important. It’s not just a nice idea. It’s not an elusive concept. And it is within your grasp.
There is no one secret to happiness or success. What works for someone else may not work for you.
So if this resonates for you, I encourage you to try a few of the practices above.
And remember happiness is not just a mood—it’s a practice, an intentional way of being. And you can cultivate it. Even increasing your happiness by 5 or 10% can have an incredibly positive effect on your work, your success, your life.
If you enjoyed this post and would like help in making shifts at a deeper level so that you can cultivate more happiness and experience greater success, get your free guide with 5 ways to find more balance and meaning today or contact me directly to see if you qualify for a complimentary strategy session.
You can also learn more about me, read more blog posts, download free tips to create a business and a life you love or check out the stories of people who have worked with me.