So why are building Happiness habits important? Its not just about being happy all the time, we want to be happy of course, but its about so much more. Especially at the moment.
When I started to talk about this research and science in 2013/2014 when I was studying Positive Psychology people just weren’t ready to hear it. I would get funny looks or people would try and argue with me or they would it call it ‘that happy clappy stuff she talks about’. They just didn’t understand it and instead of realising this and I needed to share it more and be a little be different and embrace my weirdness (like I do now!), I felt like I wasn’t good enough so I started dulling my light, for so long I didn’t share this message.
So as we know traditional psychology kind of focuses on a bit of lack mindset unfortunately, what is wrong with people, how do we fix them, what is wrong with situations. It is very much ingrained within our society.
Positive psychology flips this all on its head and is based on the latest neuroscience and research around when we focus on what is right rather than wrong. We look at how we can elevate our levels of positive emotion and this releases amazing happy chemicals in our brain, fuelling our brain and giving it energy, reducing our fight/flight mechanism and enabling us to be creative, innovative and productive as a result.
I do feel the world is moving more towards embracing Positive Psychology and similar practices as the paradigm is shifting so we are beginning to see hope. As we shift more out of a patriarchal society and the structures we have had for so long its starting to shift.
I shared recently how I don’t like the word ‘challenge’ its seen as a ‘thing’ to do as an entrepreneur to do a ‘challenge’ to show your audience value. Did you know the word challenge has only been used in our language in this way since war times? The amount of war words we now use in everyday life ‘strategy’ ‘fighting’ etc.
In the corporate world I felt like I was fighting a lot and this led me to burn out. When you put a positive psychology lens on this you can see why, as soon as you use this war related words, of course its going to consciously and subconsciously trigger your fight/flight mechanism.
What if we used words like healing, expansion, shifting….why do we need to feel like we are being challenged? Its yucky! If we focus on what words we can use to create positive emotion then of course the benefits will rippled out and this is shown by neuroscience in the Positive Psychology field. Why we would ever want to make someone go into fight or flight mode with our work I do not understand but I think its so ingrained its not deliberate.
I eventually stopped by dulling my light and actually started to stand up for this shift and be a leader in this space funnily enough after a few years of creating these happiness habits in my own life. My fight/flight mechanism needed some time to chill out I think! Also I had built the happy hormones in my brain enough to boost my self belief and care less about what people though….I have always felt like there was more to life and Positive Psychology showed me the way (I know that sounds cheesy!). When I had the opportunity to apply for TEDx (and got through to the top 30 out of 400 applications) I just knew this was my time to share my message!
So what are the practical ways you can bring these happiness habits into your life? (These will really shift you if you dedicate time to them, I promise!)
In TEDx I talk about these and they come from the research of Shawn Achor which I’ve completed my own research on and seen dramatic results (Thanks Shawn for permission for this and also to use in my TEDx!)
So we are basically looking at ways to bring positive emotion into your life, tapping into joy, choosing joy every day. As we now know this is not just a self-care or nice thing to do there is a responsibility to do this for our friends, family, clients and the collective conscious, research is now coming out to show we can impact on a global scale with this stuff!
So the 5 activities I talk about – Being Thankful – Gratitude, Random Acts of Kindness, Exercise, Expressing in Writing (journaling) and Staying Present (Mindfulness)
With gratitude thinking of 3 things you are grateful for every day has been shown to massively shift positive emotion and even be more powerful than antidepressants. This can be a big thing you are grateful for or a small thing such as a cup of tea! Its doesn’t matter, its getting into this thinking that’s important creating new brain pathways for happiness (a bit like the pathway through the woods I talk about in TEDx!)
Acts of kindness again can be as simple as texting a friend or you could combine the too and share your gratitudes with people you are grateful for. One to watch out for here though is making sure your act of kindness comes from a place where your cup is really full….I see a lot of time with clients people not putting themselves first and ‘helping’ or being kind from a place where they are using it as a distraction and they are actually burning themselves out by helping. Remember the ripple effects you have when you focus on your self care. Make sure you are filling your own cup first with this one.
Exercise – this goes without saying but this could even be a simple walk round the block, we are looking at getting those endorphins going and your heart rate elevated.
Journaling – This is a great therapy tool, with positive journaling you want to be journaling about positive emotion. I will sometimes journal just about anything that comes up and then combine with gratitude and journal a page all about what I am grateful for.
Mindfulness – This is a really key one as this can help to build our awareness of both positive and negative emotions and think about what we need to process or heal with the negative emotions. The fact that Mindfulness is a big part of positive psychology also shows its not a ‘happy clappy’ thing but based on very real and researched emotion! I found in a recent Mindfulness programme it actually shifted the way people worked, improved their relationships and one client looking to lose weight actually cancelled her weight loss programme as Mindful eating had far more powerful results!
The minimum amount of time to benefit from Mindfulness is 6 minutes and Marines were shown to have dramatic impacts on their focus in the field after 12 minutes of Mindfulness. Where do you have 6 minutes in your day? Where could you fit this in?
What could you achieve with more brain fuel? If this resonates with you and you would like to incorporate happiness habits into your life and business and really start to make this shifts in your own life please get in touch.