We spend a lot of time talking about how to grow your career, and ultimately, the main reason is because we want to help you be happier. The science of happiness has come a long way in the last couple of decades largely lead by a guy by the name of Shawn Achor. Mr. Achor came from a pretty average middle class family in Texas and applied to Harvard on a dare. He got in and ended up staying for a long time. While getting his bachelors, he was shocked to discover that many Harvard undergrads were rather unhappy people. He was very confused as to how and why these kids, who mostly come from very well off families and are getting a Harvard education which basically puts the world at their fingertips when they graduate, could possibly be unhappy. He dug into the issue and after a lot of research found that society thinks about the relationship between happiness and success in exactly the wrong way. We think that success leads to happiness, but it’s actually the other way around. Happiness leads to success.
We highly recommend his book The Happiness Advantage, but since we know you’re busy and might not have time to read it, here are 7 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Happier:
1. Give yourself little burst of happiness:
Happiness is all about the little things. Keep photos of the important people in your life and take a couple of minutes every hour to look away from the computer and look at their smiling faces. Doing this will help you remember why you do everything you do.
We know it sounds wishy washy but give it a try! Meditation reduces anxiety, depression, and stress. It speeds up your brain, reduces the risk of heart disease and improves memory, all things that will help you be happier. Meditating doesn’t mean you have to become a buddhist or a yogi, for a secular view at meditation try mindfulness.
3. Find something to look forward to:
We all know that vacations, birthdays, and other major events make us happy when they happen, but the research has found that they also make us happy when we know they’re coming, and we’re excited about it. Plan your vacations accordingly and put a reminder on your desk, a picture of where you’re going with the date. Install an app on your phone that reminds you every day of the number of days before big events. Just remember, always have something to look forward to, even if it’s just sleeping in late on Saturday.
4. Commit acts of kindness:
It’s not just a cliche, giving is better than receiving, and it’s even better when you pay it forward, and help out those who can’t help themselves. Those of us in the insurance industry are lucky because many of the companies we work for support this kind of activity. All three of Carly’s past and current employers have allowed employees to use work time to perform charitable work.
There is exhaustive research that exercise is fantastic for you in many ways. It’s not only good for your physical health, it also releases endorphins which quite literally make you happier. Exercise also helps you think more clearly. Over the last year, Carly has discovered yoga and even some cardio, while Tony continues to have an irrational fear of the gym and arguing that going up a couple of flights of stairs while visiting agents on the field is all the exercise he needs. Plus he doesn’t want to ruin his “executive shape”.
6. Spend money on experiences, not stuff:
This one really changed Tony’s life. Before he was big into buying stuff, a new Mac, the latest iPhone, etc. After reading the book in 2011, he decided to give it a try. When he got to visit Vegas for the CPCU Society Annual Meeting, he made it a point to focus on buying experiences instead of stuff and went to watch 5 shows in 6 days and LOVED it. Since then, he’s been following this advice and traveling, meeting people and focusing on living as many awesome experiences as possible, instead of buying shiny new stuff. Stuff only makes you happy for a few days, then it goes back to being just stuff. Great experiences stay with you for much longer thus giving you more happiness-bang for your buck.
7. Make a list of the things you’re thankful for everyday:
Even if you only write down one thing each day, this can be helpful. You’ll find that if you get in the habit of writing down one thing, you will be more apt to notice things you are grateful for as you continue the practice.
In the course of working hard and taking care of family obligations, it can be easy to fall into a cycle of negativity. Reading Mr. Achor’s book and adopting one or more of these seven practices can help to create more happiness in your life, and if you read Mr. Achor’s book, you’ll learn about the ways that happiness leads to success.
What other practices do you use? If you’ve read the book, what did you think?
Disclaimer: If you buy the book using one of the links above, we do get a small commission. All proceeds help us make InsNerds better!