What makes you happy? To answer that question, you'll perhaps peruse through your happy memories and, for a moment, your face will brighten up just thinking about the good times. But, there is more to the science of happiness than you know.
According to Shawn Achor — happiness researcher, author, and speaker — one can train one's brain to be more positive. In his New York Times best-selling book, The Happiness Advantage, he says,
If you can raise somebody's level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage. Your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral, or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise.
Happiness can directly have an impact on your brain and, according to Achor, the brain at this state can increase your productivity by 31 percent and in turn, give you an added advantage at work.
And what is even better is the fact that we can double up our happiness quotient with a simple 23-minute routine. Just take this time out of your busy schedule for a 'happier' you.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Write three things you are grateful for, first thing in the morning.
It has been scientifically proven that expressing gratitude may be one of the simplest ways to feel better and it also helps in improving physical and psychological health. All you have to do is write three things that you are grateful for, first thing in the morning.
To see a long-term effect, Achor says do it for 21 straight days.
This activity helps us focus on the positives in our lives and is the fastest way to teach the brain to be more optimistic.
2. Write in detail about one positive experience in your life everyday.
Journalling is a soothing exercise and anyone who has done it will vouch for it. Write a detailed description of a positive experience that you’ve had in the past 24 hours and bullet point every detail.
This allows your brain to relive the experience, which teaches your brain that the positive behavior matters. It works since the brain can't tell the difference between visualization and actual experience.
Doing this for 21-days straight can help you reprogram your brain.
3. Indulge in a cardio activity for good 15 minutes, everyday.
A lot of us aim to do it every morning and eventually fail to continue for a longer duration of time. But what if you get to know that exercise not only keeps you fit but also, happy?
Achor says that a short burst of fun cardio activity — whether it’s a brisk walk in the park, a quick workout using the ‘7-minutes’ app, dancing to your favourite songs or anything alike — works wonders.
Why must you do it? Because a morning exercise trains your brain to believe "my behavior matters," which then carries (positively) into other activities throughout the day.
4. Focus on your breath and observe it 'go in and out' for two minutes.
Meditation has always been a difficult practice for me personally. But according to Achor, it will "raise accuracy rates, improve levels of happiness, and drop stress levels."
Just focus on your breath and observe it 'go in and out' for two minutes. This relaxes your brain by making it focus on only one thing at a time. You’ll eventually feel that you’re more present in the moment than ever before.
Fun Fact: Google employees practice this regularly at their workspace.
5. Write a few kind words to your friends or family.
This is my favourite and probably the most important out of the 5.
You remember the last time you got a ‘Thank You’ or ‘You are awesome’ text/mail from a friend? It brightens everything about the day and no matter how bad things have been, you tend to get a smile on your face. Imagine the kind of impact you can have in someone’s life by expressing kindness.
If you are reading this, I would like to urge you to write something positive to a friend, family member or a colleague and see how it makes you feel. People who do this become known as positive leaders with strong social connections — the greatest predictor of long-term happiness, according to Achor.
23-minutes. That is all you need to transform your life around. And most of these activities don’t even require you getting up except for exercising but come on, no one has achieved anything from being lazy anyway.
Ready for your dose of some dope(amine)?
Designs by Disha Bhanot.