Are you someone who chases happiness? On a recent Super Soul Sunday Oprah met with Shawn Achor and they discussed his research on happy people. Basically, most of us believe that once we reach success, we’ll be happy and of course, if we are then happy in this future state, we will be positive and live with joy. But Shawn has discovered that instead if we choose to be more positive this choice helps us to become more successful and joyous. He reminds us that success is fluid and once you reach it, you will move on to reach for another success; it is a short-term boost. His definition of happiness is inline with the Ancient Greeks, “The joy we feel striving towards our potential.”
Basically happiness equals pleasure, it is short-lived. His research has shown: 10% of our long-term happiness is found outside ourselves in the world, while 90% is based on how our brain processes the perception of our lives.
Oprah added that the external world can be great but the human yearning is about perception and connection. This comes from the inner self and, when healthy it is founded by love.
The bottom line, happiness is a choice and just like we must practice good hygiene, a healthy diet and sleep routine, we must practice happiness habits. Yes, we can be preconditioned for depression and other illness and our history does impact us but don’t let your genes or your environment define you. For us, as humans, inner joy is linked to meaningful lives; if you want to feel joy, make sure how you’re spending your time really matters. Do things that make a difference to you and to others.
Shawn challenges us to practice happiness habits a couple minutes a day, for at least 21 days to create the habit. He suggests the following:
• Think of one thing that was meaningful to you in the past twenty-four hours and journal about it; write down every detail you can remember in order for your brain to re-experience it.
• When you wake up, write three things for which you are grateful.
• Spread praise by telling someone thank you and how you appreciate this individual.
• Engage in 15 minutes of exercise because this tells the brain, “My behavior matters.”
• Meditate or pray.
It doesn’t matter if you see the glass ½ empty or ½ full to Shawn, whether you are a pessimist or optimist, what matters is that you know there is a spiritual pitcher of water near by and you can fill the glass up during the times you need to!