THE BLOG

5 Happiness Practices to Increase Levels of Joy

02/16/2015 01:38 pm ET | Updated Apr 18, 2015
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What we're finding is that it is not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world is what shapes your reality. If we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every educational and business outcome at the same time.

These words, spoken by Shawn Achor in 2011 at TEDxBloomington, can be life-changing. They should be life-changing.

Can you imagine a world where positivity is the focus? Where every person is out looking for the positives in each situation, rather than the sadness, shame, or negativity?

So many people look at their life's circumstances and say, "If I only had..." Yet Achor went on to say that only 10 percent of our long-term happiness is dependent on our external world and 90 percent of our long-term happiness is dependent on the way our brains process the world. That tells us that what we perceive to be missing from our lives is not the reason for our woes. Neither the right job, best college, degree of monetary wealth, nor social circle will make us happy. Apparently we make ourselves happy... or not.

Our levels of optimism, social support, and the ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat are the greatest predictors of job successes. Maybe it's time to think of our entire lives as our jobs. Our jobs are filling our life-cups right to the brim so that we experience every joy and benefit there is to be had; what a wonderful thought!

How can we improve our outlooks and focus more on the positives around us? Let's all try taking these simple steps and practicing them with consistency:

  • Each night before going to bed, write down three new things for which you are grateful. Don't just list them in your mind, but put them down on paper where you can look back and, literally, count your blessings. Doing this for 21 days will create a habit, and your brain will start looking for more things to appreciate.
  • Start a positivity journal. Each day write about one positive experience you've had in the last 24 hours. As with the gratitude activity, you will soon be on the lookout for those joyful events about which to write.
  • Perform random, but intentional, acts of kindness. Whether it be for a stranger, or someone in your social network, the recipient will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and you will reap the rewards of adding a dose of positivity to your life.
  • Physically exercise every day. A growing body of literature suggests that exercise, physical activity, and physical activity interventions have beneficial effects across several physical and mental health outcomes. The benefits can be found in lowered emotional reactivity and stress levels, as well as benefits to the physical aspects of our bodies, such as coronary heart issues, diabetes, or obesity.
  • Meditate daily. Meditation, even one minute each day, has been shown to help decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, while improving creativity, cognitive flexibility, and overall well-being. Plus, meditation also allows the brain to stop the ADHD-like behaviors we've picked up by living in such a fast-paced world, and we are soon able to focus on one task at a time, dedicating all of our brain power to the topic at hand rather than diminishing our abilities.

For most of us, these are not new ideas. They are simply habits we have failed to establish... until now. Make today a fresh start for you. Love yourself enough to realize you deserve a happy life filled with joy, gratitude, appreciation, and good health.

Isn't it time you gave yourself this gift?

Good luck! I can't wait to hear about what you try, and how it impacts your life.

Dr. W

Dr. Wolbe can be contacted via her website at www.drsusiewolbe.com.