5 Steps for Being Happier Today

Did you know that Positive Psychology is the largest course at Harvard? It seems that being happier is in great demand today. Tal Ben-Shahar, the course lecturer, advises 5 steps for being happier.

I couldn’t help comparing this list to 5 Ways to Effect Lasting Positive Change suggested by Shawn Achor. There is some overlap between the two. Both researchers highlight exercise and gratitude journalling as ways to being happier.

It’s nice to know that the research agrees on a few key things for being happier!

1. Accept painful emotions

Paradoxically, accepting painful emotions as part of being alive gives us permission to experience the full gamut of human emotions. This opens us up to positive emotions as well, including being happier.

2. Exercise

It should come as no surprise that exercise keeps depression, sadness, and anxiety at bay. What is surprising is that exercising for 30-40 minutes three times a week achieves this as well as the most powerful psychiatric drugs available.

3. Stop texting while you’re with your friends

Psychologist Tim Kessler says that “time affluence” is a good predictor of a person’s well-being. We have time affluence when we chat with our friends without checking our phones at the same time.

4. Simplify

Simplify your life. Trying to cram more and more into less and less time makes us unhappy. The price we pay for cramming is lower quality of work, and lower quality of relationships.

5. Express your gratitude daily in writing

Before going to sleep each night, write at least 5 things you are grateful for in a gratitude journal. People who do this are happier, more optimistic, more successful, more likely to achieve their goals, and are physically healthier. They are also more generous and benevolent toward others.

Being happier personally

I’m going to work on #3: Stop texting while with friends. Although I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, I’ve always thought this was a little bit rude. Working on this will not only make me happier, but also a more polite person 🙂 Plus I like the idea of having “time affluence”. I’ve been working on being time-rich for many years now, but that’s another post for another day.

How many out of these 5 steps do you already practise? Which one will you work on next?

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