Tiny Tips to increase Happiness

I was delivering a talk on Happiness.  When I asked people to consider, “what gets in the way of your happiness?” one man said, “Time.  I am so stressed and have so much to do, I don’t have time to do any of the stuff that makes me happy.”
OK, so let’s establish something: Happiness is not something you do, it’s something you are.  It’s not stuff, it’s how you feel after you do that “stuff.”  It’s something you carry inside of you.  It’s a feeling you can nurture and strengthen through practice.
And if time is an issue, here’s the good news: frequency (of practice) beats duration every time.  Let me explain.  Do you remember when you learned to type in high school?  Your teacher told you to practice 30 minutes daily.    Yikes!  Who has time?  Still, at the end of the semester here’s what happened.  The people who practiced every day typed faster and better than those who crammed in their practice on Sunday nights, even if they only did five minutes each day to the crammers’ several hours.
“What might help you, sir,” I suggested, “are what I call micro-practices; little practices that take just a few seconds each time and which can, literally, recalibrate your whole system when done regularly for 30 days (or forever, for that matter!).
Breathe into your deep belly.  Whenever you have a moment between meetings, sitting at a traffic light, shifting from one task to another, take 15 seconds (you can spare that!) to take two deep breaths, in through your nose and out thru your nose.  Notice how your body moves to calmer.
Express gratitude. Look people in the eye and say ‘Thank You.’  Keep a list of good things that happen around you during the day.
Appreciate what you did. Whenever you finish something — a phone call, a transaction on your desk, a batch of mail, a project, or a conversation — pause before you move on.  Take five seconds to give yourself credit for what you just accomplished, and notice that tiny piece of good feeling you hold around getting that thing done.  Let it soak in.  Then move on.
Offer praise. Compliment someone else on a job well done, or when they do you a favor.  The time you take to “fuel their tank” will also cause you to feel better about yourself.
Smile when you walk.  When ever you go from one place to another at work, put on an intentional smile.  Even if it’s fake, wear it for your walk.  Notice how your spirits lift as you go from one place to another.  (you might also notice a lot more people smiling back at you, which will feed a little positive emotion into your tank!)
Pay attention to how your “happiness” muscles get stronger when you use them a little bit.. little bit… little bit… every single day.

3 thoughts on “Tiny Tips to increase Happiness”

  1. “Smile when you walk” is such good advice, and I know because I do it all the time! I’m a shy person by nature, so for many years I walked around deliberately NOT making eye contact with people… then someone who I had gotten to know told me that when they first met me, they thought I was stuck up or mean, because I deliberately avoided connecting with people. I thought to myself, “How awful! I’m not selfish OR mean!” From that point on I made an effort, though it was uncomfortable at first, to smile at people as I walked past them. I work in a building with hundreds of other people, and walking from one place to another I inevitably encounter several passers-by…. I found by making eye contact and smiling at people, that people actually smiled back! Not only do I feel better when I get to where I’m going, I know that it has an effect on others too because one of my previous managers commented to me once, “Kelly, I love that you are always smiling! It’s so nice to see”. Smiling when I walk is one of the ways that I “flex my happiness muscles” every day!

  2. My psychology professor told me that studies in which clinically depressed people smiled for a week indicated that the simply mechanical act of smiling increased happiness, decreases stress and improves one’s mood.
    I have been smiling ever since and have noticed that grinning, a big, natural grin causes a rush of positive emotion identical to the first time I fell in love.
    Now I am spreading the gospel of smiling to anyone who will listen. I owe my future lifetime of happiness to my professor for cluing me into the secret to a happy life. It is the simplest imaginable thing which is why most people don’t realize it.
    You don’t smile when your happy, you smile to become happy!

  3. Adam, I love that you are spreading happiness to the world! You are so on to a HUGE and powerful ‘secret’ — which is: we can create our moods and emotions thru our actions. Play the role (which may feel odd at first) and notice how you eventually grow so used to it that it becomes natural.
    and yes, it is just that simple! In happiness, J


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