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Happiness Hack #69 Strengthen Positive Relationships with Creative Gratitude

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Two of the strongest recurring themes in happiness research are showing gratitude and positive relationships. You can engage both themes at once by improving your relationships through creative expressions of your gratitude.

 

5 Ideas for Creative Gratitude:

 

  1. Send a picture or video. With today’s smart phones, taking a quick photo or video with you showing your appreciation can be done in less than a minute. The recipient will be excited and will most likely share their joy with someone else nearby.
  2. Write a personal note on the nearest writing surface you can find. For example; a napkin in a restaurant, a whiteboard in their office, or a post-it note. They will appreciate the spontaneity and especially like the idea that you are thinking of them as you go through your busy day.
  3. Share your talents. We all have a hobby or something we are good at or known for.  Share some of your famous brownies or help them fix something around their house or office.  Use your special skills to show appreciation.
  4. Share your story. Explain to them why you appreciate them with a personal story of how their presence has impacted you. Knowing specifically how they were able to make your day a little better will create a special kind of confidence and happiness.
  5. Pay it forward. Tell them how they inspired you to share your gratitude with a 3rd Let them know that their good deeds are spreading into the world and helping others be happy.

 

Showing gratitude in even the smallest ways improves happiness and builds stronger relationships for everyone involved.  Find ways to creatively express your gratitude and you will have stronger relationships that help you become happier and more successful.

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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4 Happiness Hacks and the Science behind Them

  1. Turn off the digital devices and turn on the charm.
  2. Get some exercise.
  3. Go outside.
  4. Say Thank You.

Infographic Courtesy of Coursefinder.

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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Why Should You Be Thankful?

The power of gratitude appears to be one of the most common and agreed upon themes in happiness research. The belief in its positive impact is almost universal. Gratitude is also a keystone habit, in that practicing gratitude is foundational and helpful to most of the other habits that improve happiness. Gratitude is geographically universal. Almost every culture has a practice of showing gratitude. In most cases, that includes giving thanks to a higher power or deity. Grateful people tend to find less conflict and more harmony in their relationships and interactions. They appreciate the action that was taken rather than being upset about the action that wasn’t taken. Feeling grateful has been shown to help people feel more energized, alert, and enthusiastic. People who are grateful tend to be more spiritual and more agreeable. Grateful people have a higher sense of belonging. They are less stressed, less depressed, and feel like they have more social support. This encourages them to be closer to people and to build harmonious rather than fractious relationships.

The practice of being grateful forces us to find the positive things in our environment and relationships that are applicable and specific to us. It’s a method of thinking positively that connects more to our feelings than to our logic. Some of the research showed that grateful people perform better specifically in areas where they practice gratitude. Sixth- and seventh-grade students who were asked to write what they were thankful for about school showed improvement in their performance at school. Gratitude also has a pay-it-forward characteristic that creates a virtuous circle. The more grateful we are, the more we want to help other people, which makes us feel better and more grateful. In turn, the people we help become more motivated to help others themselves.

Activities for Gratitude:

  1. Spend 10 minutes counting your blessings. Don’t stop writing until the 10 minutes is up. Don’t stop until you have over 100 items on your list. Most of us have a lot more to be thankful for than we realize. We take for granted the simple things in our lives, like a bed to sleep on and running water.
  2. Every morning, think about things you are grateful for and write down three of them. Do this daily to create the habit. Longer term, you will want to vary your timing based on how you feel and what works for you. For some people, doing this exercise weekly created more happiness than doing it daily. You can find the timing that works for you.
  3. Write a heartfelt letter of gratitude to someone important in your life and read it to him or her in person. The significant increase in happiness comes from actually reading it to them, not just in writing it.
  4. Write thank-you notes to five people and make sure they get delivered.
  5. Find a gratitude support partner. Someone you can work with for mutual support for regularly practicing gratitude.
  6. Introduce someone to something new that you enjoy. Show a friend your hobby. Show a new co-worker around the office. Show a visitor the great things in your town.

 

 

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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New Found Gratitude & Happiness

Last weekend, I spent a day touring different areas of Mumbai and most importantly the Dharavi Slum.  The Dharavi Slum is one of the largest slums in the world and sits on a 500+ acre site in the heart of this thriving city.  The slum is home to approximately 1M people.  And, yes, Dharavi was the location of the movie SlumDog Millionaire.

To set the stage, Mumbai, as much of India appears to be, is a place of truly “haves” and “have nots”.  In a city of approximately 23M people, over 50% (11M+) of the local residents living in some level of slums or street dwelling.  Other parts of the city are booming with construction of office towers and multi-million dollar residences.  The streets are bustling with traffic of cars, taxis, motor bikes and pedestrians, which while something inconceivable to me, seems to be a form of organized chaos with everyone simply going about their day.

Going into my tour, I had a strong impression of what I believed I was about to experience – poverty, filth, and sadness.  Yes, many of my beliefs were there.  The living & sanitation conditions were indescribable with families living in spaces of less than 10 square meters and open flowing sewage running through the narrow alleys.

What I didn’t see was the sadness that I thought I would experience.  It was amazing to see the little children running through these alleys smiling, giggling and playing just as any small child would be doing on a sunny afternoon.  The adults were simply going about their day and very proud to show me what they were doing.  Everyone was very friendly and wanted to say “hi” at every opportunity.

Everyone seemed to be simply enjoying their day.

A remarkable thing that I learned about the Dharavi Slum was the pure ecosystem that this community has developed to support themselves and each other.  There were a number of “industries” in the slum that produce over $650M of annual revenues for the community.  Seeing how the people worked and how they had an entire process for their industry was amazing and unforgettable.

Although it is difficult to do justice to the systems I experienced, one industrial ecosystem that I walked through was Recycling.  They had a process for recycling virtually everything from plastics to aluminum and metals.  They brought in the initial “garbage” and hand sorted it into different pieces of the process.  Then they went through a full recycle process were the output was truly reusable product – aluminum ingots and plastic pellets.  This finished product was then distributed to third parties that would sell to the world to produce products that you and I use on a daily basis.  This process is so efficient, that recyclables from around the world are shipped into the Dharavi Slum to go through the system.

What I experienced was that people were truly grateful for what they had.  They were extremely proud of their lives, their community, and their support of each other.  It had nothing to do with the amount of material things they had or the amount of money they made.  They were simply happy living in the moment and enjoying their contributions to the overall well being of their community.

Leaving the slums, I much better understand the meaning of being grateful for all that I have and not stressing over things that seem to be huge at the time, but are really minimal in the overall scheme of life.  I also learned the challenge with pre-judging as we may not have critical information or fully understand the situation.  It was a great experience.

Enjoy your day.  Be grateful for all that you have.  Be happy.

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How to Be Happier in Less Than 1 Minute Per Day

We all want to be happier, but it is hard to carve time out of our busy lives to do the things we think will make us happier. Or we are hoping that if we can just get through our to-do list then we can take time to be happy. We are chasing success with the hope that when we finally find success, it will also include happiness. Unfortunately, happiness is not something we eventually get to once we have achieved success. It is something we need to practice every day. The good news is practicing happiness daily will help us be more successful. So here are 5 tips that take less than 1 minute to implement every day to be a little happier and create success.

 

  1. Be Grateful – Each morning list 3 things you are grateful for. Being grateful helps us start the day with appreciation and optimism rather than dread and worry.
  2. Smile More – Take 15 seconds to practice smiling in the mirror. Then smile at 7 more people throughout the day. Smiling makes you feel better and connects you to other people. It also sends a signal to your brain to be happier. Most importantly, smiling is contagious. Other people will catch it and share it.
  3. Hug – Offer someone a hug. Hugging releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel better. Hint: It has to be a mutual hug. Don’t hug someone that doesn’t want to be hugged.
  4. Remember Your Last Vacation – Pause and remember a wonderful moment from your last vacation. Positive experiences can provide happiness over and over again each time we think of them.   Hint: Spend your money on experiences rather than things.
  5. End the Day on a Good Note – At the end of the day think of 3 good things that happened. We can’t remember every detail of every day. So we usually remember a peak experience and/or how our day ended. A month from now we will categorize our days as good or bad based on those last memories. So end with a good memory and your days will be categorized as good days. Keep it up and eventually, so will your weeks, and months, and years.

 

Hopefully you already do a few of these things automatically. The rest can be added to your list of habits. Start small and don’t try to adopt them all at once.   Pick one of the tips and practice it every day for a month without skipping a day.   Once it has become a habit, pick another tip and work on that one.

 

One more note, the research shows that happier people tend to be more successful. So build these happiness habits that take less than 1 minute each day and not only will you become happier, but you will be able to leverage that happiness to create success.

 

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

 

 

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Happiness Hack #1 Find 3 Things to Be Grateful for Everyday

Happiness Hack #1 Find 3 Things to Be Grateful for Everyday

Research shows that people who express gratitude regularly are healthier, less stressed, and more successful. Gratitude gives you something positive to focus on as you tackle the challenges life throws at you.

Every morning when you wake up, think of three things that you are grateful for. They could be as simple as having running water (something 1/3 of the world doesn’t have) or a family, or a place to live, or a job. Remind yourself everyday about the good things in your life.

 

Happiness Hack #2  – End the Day on a Good Note

Happiness Hack #3 – Schedule 15 minutes every morning for prioritized “Me” time

Happiness Hack #4 – Practice Autonomy

Happiness Hack #5 Make Time To Exercise

Happiness Hack #6: Find Flow

Happiness Hack #7 Keep a Happiness Jar

Happiness Hack #8 Finding Meaning

Happiness Hack #9 Start Small

 

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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6 Things Dogs Can Teach Us About Happiness

Our dog’s name is Aria and she has a wonderful influence on the family.  She loves to play with the kids and is excited and happy whenever any of us walk in the door.  She adapts to each family member’s mood and has enough love to spread among everyone in the family with some left over for visitors.  As I learn and write about happiness, I noticed she already knows most of what I am learning and provides great examples for how to be happier.

 

  1. Gratitude comes natural to her.  She is grateful when we get home, grateful when we take her on a walk, grateful when she gets fed and really grateful when we throw a ball she can chase and bring back.
  2. Positive Relationships – she connects and gives unconditional love to anyone who is willing to spend a few minutes with her, as long as they pass the sniff test.  She notices people’s moods and adjusts her actions to fit their mood.  When we are excited to see her, she shares that excitement and when we are quiet and thoughtful she lies down and patiently waits. Her expectation is that she will love and be loved back, so she ignores any actions that don’t support that belief.
  3. Forgiveness – she never holds a grudge.  No matter how forgetful or thoughtless we are, she will immediately forgive us and be ready play and love and just hangout.
  4. Positive Attitude – She believes everything is going to turn out right and ignores any evidence to the contrary.  She never stops and worries, what if they don’t feed me.  She just keeps expecting that at some point she is going to be fed.  If someone in the family is in a bad mood, she waits patiently with the expectation they will eventually transition back to a good mood and she does everything she can to help them get there.
  5. Owns Her Happiness – If we are not around or are too busy to play, our dog will sit in the sun, chew on a bone, or chase squirrels as they jump from tree to tree.  She finds a way to be happy and enjoy herself no matter what the circumstances.
  6. Higher Purpose – she knows her purpose in life is to make us happy.  You can see in her eyes the joy she gets from making someone in the family smile. The happier we get, the happier she gets.  She is never angry or upset.  She stays focused on her purpose; making us happy and being happy with us.

 

So, if you need a quick reminder about how to be happy, talk to your dog.  Her response will be happiness itself.

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles M. Schulz

What have you learned from your dog about happiness?

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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How to get Happy – 4 Concepts connected to Leadership and Success

Over the years I have had the opportunity to study leadership and success.   I am struck by the connections between each area and how those connections are similar for happiness as well.

 

Your first test on happiness:

  1. Do you want to:
    1. Receive happiness like winning the lottery or receiving a gift?
    2. Experience happiness as a state of mind?

If you choose A, then you may be waiting for a while, possibly forever.  However, if you choose B, then we, the team at Pursuit-of-Happiness.org, have a lot to share that may be helpful.

 

Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, explained that happiness is created through our daily intentional activities.  This is consistent with Leadership and Success as well.   Happiness is within our ability to control with what we do in our daily lives and how we think.

 

Here are 4 concepts that will provide a framework for exploring happiness.

The first concept is understanding the difference between Pleasure and Happiness.   Are you chasing immediate pleasures like sex, decadent foods, couch time, and video time, or are you nurturing relationships, maintaining your health through diet and exercise,  finding ways to improve yourself, and being thankful for what is working in your life.  The pursuit of pleasure involves feeling good in the short-term at the possible risk of negative long-term outcomes; the pursuit of happiness consists of intentional activities and habits that promote long term health and well-being.

 

 

The second concept is taking control of your life.   George Bernard Shaw although a little gruff, was headed in the right direction when he explained pursuing happiness as, “…being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. “  Do you own your decisions and the consequences of those decisions?  Are you deciding every day to invest in the habits and activities that will lead to happiness or are you waiting and hoping that happiness will find you?

 

The third concept is cultivating close positive relationships.  Do you have a few close friends you can talk to and share tell about your failures and successes? People who know and appreciate the real you, the good and the bad?  Are you caring and sharing in the community? Is there a person, group, or cause that you care for and give to?  The acts of sharing our true selves with others and caring for others are the most important things we can do to generate happiness and contentment in our lives.

 

The fourth concept is finding and expressing purpose and meaning.  The full George Bernard Shaw quote is:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

 

Do you have something bigger than yourself to focus on?  Is there something bigger that you believe in or something that you know you were meant to do?  For many people this can be expressed in their religion or other spiritual pursuits.  Others may focus on their children or their meaningful contributions.

 

In summary, if you are choosing to pursue happiness:

  1. Understand the difference between Pleasure and Happiness
  2. Take control of your life and your happiness.
  3. Develop close positive relationships and care for others.
  4. Find and express purpose and meaning in your life.

 

As described above for happiness, leadership and success require a long term perspective, action and ownership, strong relationships, and a sense of purpose.

 

Also like Leadership and Success, happiness is not a possession that can be acquired.   It is a state of mind resulting from the cultivation of intentional daily habits.    It has to be pursued, explored, and experienced on an on-going basis.   Find out more about how to cultivate Happiness Habits at Pursuit-of-Happiness.org.

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