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7 habits that lead to happiness

Happier people are more productive. Way more productive.

According to psychologist (and happiness researcher) Shawn Achor, when your brain is happy, it “performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral, or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, [and] your energy levels rise”.

Achor has deeply explored the topic, and has uncovered that happy people:

Are 31% more productive (this one’s my favorite)
Have 37% better sales figures
Have better, more secure jobs
Are better at keeping their jobs
Are more resilient
Have less burnout.

And more. Happy doctors are even “19% faster, [and] more accurate at coming up right the right diagnosis at positive instead of negative, neutral, or stressed”.

According to Achor, “if we can find a way of become positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully as we’re able to work harder, faster, and more intelligently.” Luckily, there are a number of scientifically-proven ways that you can rewire your brain to become happier. Achor suggests five of them you should do every day:

Recall three things you’re grateful for.

In Achor’s studies, after doing this for 21 days, people’s brains begin to “retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first”, making them much happier.

Journal one great experience you had.

“Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.”

Exercise.

“Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters”, and it helps you solidify the connection between your actions and their rewards. Exercise is also a great way to focus better.

Meditate.

“We find that meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we’ve been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once. It allows our brains to focus on the task at hand.”

Perform a random act of kindness.

It doesn’t matter if your act of kindness is buying a coffee for the person after you in line, volunteering, or sending a positive email. Achor gets “people, when they open up their inbox, to write one positive email, praising or thanking someone in their social support network.”

Go for a nature walk.

Going for a nice walk outdoors not only provides you with exercise, but it also significantly reduces your stress levels8. One study found that, even if it was dead-cold outside, participants’ memory and attention spans improved by 20% when they took a walk through nature.

Spend time with friends and family.

Investing time into your relationships has “far-reaching benefits for your health”. A strong social support network made up of friends and family gives you a sense of belonging, increased self-worth, security, and mostly important, significantly reduces your stress levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, “taking the time to build a social support network is a wise investment not only in your mental well-being but also in your physical health and longevity.

 

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