I had the most fun last night hanging with a group of wonderful women! We laughed, danced, ate, played games, drank the most delicious mango Moscato, and were merry! It’s an annual event held by a friend of mine to celebrate the holidays! We always have a great time! Nothing but positive energy!
But it got me to thinking about how great I feel with I am with my social circle and the people who genuinely love me and support me. It was the catalyst for today’s blog on being happier this holiday and into the new year.
I began in college as a journalism major before switching majors after my first few sociology and psychology classes. I choose sociology because the idea that we could alter our social systems through norms and behaviors was fascinating to me. Today I still crave being a part of a community or tribe and its probably one of the reasons I started my blog, although I didn’t know it at the time. Having said that, I now embrace the concepts of positive psychology because I see so much unhappiness in the world. At a time when we should be feeling so social and connected, there is disharmony and unrest. Suicide rates are climbing and there are many more ways to isolate yourself as technology makes it easier for us to not to leave or homes for anything. Having also been in the field of technology for over 20 years I absolutely love what it can do for our lives, but there are some things it will never take the place of, real human connection. Positive psychology has turned some well-formed beliefs I had about happiness on its head. Today, I want to share a few with you.
Did you think that you had to accomplish certain things before you could be happy? That success, achievement, or wealth would lead to happiness? Meaning that you have to change something about yourself or do something and then the happiness would magically show up? I know that’s what a lot of people have thought for years! There’s always that goal at the end of the line that once you achieve it, KA-BOOM…Happiness! That thinking has been proven erroneous over and over again. The truth is, its the other way around! If you are happier then you will find that you are more successful, higher achieving, etc. What I also love about this field of positive psychology is that they don’t just tell us to be happier, but also discuss some strategies we can employ today to start living happier lives. Its not about just having a positive outlook or telling yourself that everything is alright, when it isn’t. It’s focused on the the possibilities of what CAN be. One of the best quotes I can use to sum it up is this one I heard from Shawn Achor, “Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change, it is the realization that we can”.
Let’s dig into 7 tips you can start doing today to be happier this season.
1. Recognize that there are alternative options that exist to your situation. Instead of focusing on all of the negative options or possible outcomes, focus on the positive ones, the ones that may lead to a better expected outcome. Look at the issue from all angles and realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
2. Balance every piece of bad news with three good pieces of news. This is called the Losada Line. The ratio is skewed because we naturally give more weight to negatives so it takes more positives to balance them out. So this means that whenever you give or get feedback you will need it in the 3:1 ratio of positive to negative.
3. Socialize and spend time with others, don’t isolate yourself. I know its great to spend time alone, its even healthy to do it sometimes. But we are referring to prolonged isolation here. When you are going through challenging feelings and emotions, you will play and replay in your mind the worst things.
4. Show gratitude to others. A great way to put this into action is to send a thank you to a different person for 21 days. You can do it on social media, email, via a phone call or the most effective way, face-to-face.
5. Create a constant reminder of the power of positive change. Jot down three of the best moments of change in your life that made you the person you are today. Put them on your mirror in the bathroom, a sticky note on your laptop, or a picture on the wall. It will remind you that “you life is a reality where your behavior matters and that you are capable of long-term positive growth”. (From Beyond Happiness by Shawn Achor.)
6. Exercise. Train your mind to believe that your behavior matters. There’s also something so great about all those endorphins! Don’t put the gym on hold. Keep up your workouts because its more than just your body that benefits, its also your mind.
7. Mediatation or Prayer. Spend 2 minutes in stillness and silence with yourself just watching your breath go in and out. In this culture of ADD it can be hard to just be still but that is where you can hear God speak to you. Make some time each day to do this exercise and you will notice increased calmness and less stress in your life.
Remember happiness can be a choice, it spreads, and its an advantage. Now is the time for you to let it be YOUR advantage!
A very Happy Holiday!