I want to share with you how you can increase your happiness significantly in your life, without it changing at all, staying exactly how it is right now.
That is because happiness has little to do with outward changes, but is a skill that needs to be learned. It is a way of seeing the world, of being intentional where you put your focus on.
The predominant narrative in our society is that you will be happy once you change something in your life. For example, you will be happy once you lose 20 pounds, once you make a lot of money, once you have a partner, once you own a Lamborghini, and so on.
However, if you have tried that and achieved what you thought would give you happiness, then you already know that this is not true.
Research in the field of Positive Psychology, which focuses on finding out what makes people happy, has found that people have a “happiness baseline”. When something good happens, they feel a short burst of happiness, but then return to the happiness level they have been at previously.
So then, really, happiness is not so much about outward changes but finding a way to increase your happiness baseline, and that is done through internal changes.
Which is such amazing news! Because you might not be able to make the outward change you long for happen right now, but you are in 100% control of your inner world. Which means – woohoo – nothing is stopping you from getting happier right now 🙂
Here are three steps, from the field of Positive Psychology, that will make you feel better right away:
1. Take one minute daily to focus on what is going right in your life.
If I would do that exercise right now, I would fill that minute with the following words, “What is right now going right in my life is the sun shining in my face, listening to amazing music, the smell of home-made cereal in the air, having eyes that can see, loving how my fingers dance on the keyboard. I love my work. I can work. I can support my family. I went biking today which was glorious. The colors of fall are so gorgeous”, and so on.
If you have difficulty finding good things in your life, there is a good chance you are not “looking small enough”. I believe there is an infinite amount of good things around us and inside us, all the time, but they only exist in our awareness if we pay attention and “see them”.
Some examples for “small things” (which of course really are big things), but might easily be taken for granted would be: a cup of coffee, a hug, a smile, a magnificent leaf, the amazing colors in the wing of a butterfly, my heart beating another 115.000 times today, taking deep breaths and tasting chocolate.
The goal is to keep your attention for a full minute on all those good things that are already present in your life, and then notice how your body reacts. Your body will love it! Each time I do this exercise, I feel lighter and a smile starts forming on my face. There is nothing more delicious for our whole being than feeling happy.
2. Take five minutes to re-live a good event.
Another easy step to increase happiness is to take a few minutes to relive good events. Science has shown that the brain can’t distinguish between experiences (what is happening outside of us) and thoughts (what is happening inside of us).
So if you want to feel happier, take a few moments to go back and relive a positive event in your past. For example, if you spent a wonderful evening with your love, go back and savor that time. When you do that, engage all your five senses. Ask yourself, during that time when I enjoyed myself so much, what did I see, touch, taste, smell and hear; make it as vivid as possible.
3. Each evening, write down three things you appreciated today in your life.
Naturally, our brains will always go to the negative. From an evolutionary perspective that makes sense. Our brain’s #1 job is to keep us alive and detect danger. Therefore, anything negative will be more interesting to the brain than something positive.
Redirecting your brain to what is good in your life will bear great fruit and increase happiness right away. That is, what you appreciate will appreciate.
If you want to read more about increasing your happiness, Shawn Achor, who held the “happiness class” at Harvard, wrote some fun books.
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