I just finished watching Shawn Achor, author of “The Happiness Advantage” share some of his research with Google employees. (See: Shawn Achor on Happiness as a Competitive Advantage)
He explains that we have a flawed model about happiness and success.
Most of us follow the formula that if we work harder, we will be more successful. And once we reach these goals we have set for ourselves and are successful, we will be so much happier. As soon as I finish this project, I will feel happier. As soon as I get into the right school, I will feel happier. As soon as I get the right job, I will be happier.
However, as soon as we finish one goal, we move the goal post and set a new goal. We finished the project, but now there is this next project. We got into the right school, but now we need to get the right job. We got the job, but now we need to get a promotion. So happiness becomes a moving target, and we never quite get there.
Anchor found that 75 percent of job successes are predicted by our optimism levels, our social support and the way we view stress. If we deepen our social support networks, raise our level of optimism, and change the way we view stress from a threat to a challenge, productivity rises 31%, sales rise by 37%, we get promoted 40% more over 2 years, we stay with organizations longer, and live longer.
So instead of pursuing success, we can work on our happiness by focusing on our optimism, social support and how we view stress.
In fact, Achor recommends quick habits that only take 2 minutes a day to increase your happiness. I recommend focusing on only 1 habit at a time for a month (Achor suggests 21 days):
1. Write down three new things you are grateful for each day
2. Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours.
3. Meditate for 2 minutes a day, focusing on your breath going in and out.
4. Write one, quick email a day thanking or praising someone you know.
5. Exercise for 10 minutes a day. (Okay, so this habit is 10 minutes, instead of 2 minutes.) 😉
Yes, happiness takes active work on our part, but it doesn’t have to be hard work! Just imagine – 2 minutes a day is enough to begin rewiring your brain to be happier! How will you practice happiness?