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Society tells us that in order to be happy we have to reach some goal that we have set for ourselves, some benchmark of success or fortune. You set a goal, you work hard, and you achieve it in order to be happy. However, research shows that the process should work in reverse: you have to be happy fi rst in order to reach your goal. In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor talks about how a positive psychology leads to success. To work at your peak state you need to be happy fi rst, and then success will follow. If we follow the conventional view - that we need to reach a goal in order to be happy - what happens? Once we reach that goal, there’s always some new goal, some new standard of “happiness” that we’re striving for, and so we never really get there. By being happy fi rst not only do you already get to enjoy the happiness that everyone is always reaching for, but you also become more effective at reaching the goals you set for yourself.
A study of the happiness advantage showed that doctors who followed this model or at least considered themselves happy were eighteen percent more likely to diagnose illness correctly the fi rst time. You’re probably thinking, “Easier said than done.” Sure there are a lot of setbacks in life, and every day isn’t going to go exactly the way you want it to, but there’s also a lot of good that goes on that we tend to take for granted.
There are a few simple things you can do everyday to be happy right now.
1. Think of (and even write down) three things for which you are thankful. It could be a person, a situation, a skill, etc. By consciously thinking of three things, you already feel successful before even starting your day.
2. Look back on the last twenty-four hours and fi nd one good thing that happened, however big or small. This will help you celebrate small successes everyday instead of focusing on what you haven’t achieved yet.
3. Every day do one act of kindness. It can be for someone you know or a stranger, something big or something small. What may seem like no big deal to you could mean the world to someone else. You can turn someone’s bad day into a good one. Not only that, doing good things for others brings us happiness as well.
4. Meditate. Taking time out of your day to refl ect and center yourself can help put things into perspective, calm agitated nerves or emotions, and focus your energy towards positive thoughts and actions for the day ahead.
5. Exercise. Working out regularly helps your body produce chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, all which contribute to exhilaration, blocking pain, satisfaction, restful sleep, healthy appetite, and overall feelings of happiness. Happiness is a choice. Each day when you wake up you can choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. When something bad happens you can choose to see the silver lining or let it defeat you. When something good happens you can choose to appreciate it or take it for granted. Making the choice to be happy puts success within your reach. ~ ~ ~
Contributed by Solomon Brenner, Master Instructor for Action Karate and coach for Zen-10 Fitness.