Do you ever find yourself daydreaming of the things you want to accomplish in your life, thinking once you get them, you’ll finally be happy?
I remember thinking this way often in my younger years. If I only had a bigger house, my dream car, or could lose those stubborn 10 pounds, my life would be so much better — or so I thought.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s certainly a great accomplishment to purchase your dream home or take a big vacation to a place that’s on your bucket list. The reality, however, is that the newness of these accomplishments is temporary and will eventually wear off. Then, you’ll still be searching for the next big thing to make you happy.
What I’ve learned over the years is that happiness is truly a state of mind, and you can actually train your brain to be happy. I recently read a book called “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. He talks about how a positive brain can fuel success both in work and in life.
Most people think that once they reach a certain level of success or security, they’ll find happiness. This book proves that happiness actually comes first, and success will follow. Finding a happy mindset will help you achieve more in your career and in your relationships.
Research shows that happy employees are much more productive, creative and are better problem solvers than unhappy employees. I know from personal experience that in sales, if you aren’t happy, your negative energy is noticeable by your potential customers. If you are happy, people will naturally gravitate toward you and want to do business with you. Happiness is contagious.
“The Happiness Advantage” outlines seven different ways to create happiness in your life. Achor points out that not all of them will work for everyone, but if everyone selects just a few ways that interest them and are diligent about doing them, those people will find it easier to be happy.
Take five minutes each day in silence with intentional breath. Breathe in and out and try to focus. Meditation takes practice, but it’s one of the most powerful happiness exercises. Research demonstrates that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness and lower stress. My favorite form of meditation is yoga. The room is silent, no one has their phone and the peaceful music helps you quiet your mind. I always feel refreshed and ready to take on the world after a great yoga class.
- Find something to look forward to.
Plan a vacation for the summer or even just a night out with friends. Making plans gives you something on the calendar to look forward to when you need a boost of happiness. This practice helps me stay on track with my goals. If I have a trip planned I have incentive to eat healthier, work out and kick my sales up a notch so I’ll have extra money to spend. What do you look forward to that you could plan right now?
- Commit to conscious acts of kindness.
Giving to family, friends or strangers greatly decreases stress levels and improves your mood immediately. Achor suggests picking one day a week to commit five acts of kindness. They don’t have to be grand gestures — you could compliment a stranger, buy someone’s coffee in the line behind you, or go out of your way to send a kind text to a friend or family member you appreciate.
- Infuse positivity into your surroundings.
Think about your office or bedroom. Does it make you smile or feel inspired? I recently had my office painted white and it feels so much brighter and happier now. It was gray before which felt gloomy and didn’t match my personality. Now every time I walk in I feel calm and refreshed. Take a mental inventory of your surroundings. Do the areas where you spend the most time bring you joy? Whether it’s by buying a houseplant, putting some flowers in a vase or opening up a window to let fresh air inside, there are plenty of small ways to liven up your surroundings.
I always get a boost of happiness after working out — for me, it’s a surefire solution. Moving your body releases endorphins and can help you clear your mind, and it’s especially important if you’re working at a desk for most of the day. If you can’t afford a gym membership, don’t worry. There are so many amazing workouts on YouTube that you can do for free, or you can walk around your neighborhood or a local park to get moving.
- Spend money on experiences.
Research says money can actually buy you happiness if you spend it on experiences rather than things. Experiences are more meaningful and create lasting memories. Experiences can be a trip, a concert to see your favorite band, or an afternoon with your girlfriends. I always prefer a special night with family and friends rather than presents — I’ll remember those memories much more than I will a new pair of shoes!
- Exercise a signature strength.
Do something that you’re good at every week. Everyone has something they excel at, whether it’s cooking, helping others or giving great advice. When you do the things you’re great at, you’ll feel happier and more fulfilled.
If you want to be a happier person, try doing some of these happiness exercises in your daily life and watch yourself start to feel better.