The Happiness Re-Wire

What is happiness?  You know when you’re happy–it’s a very circumstantial emotion.  You also know what makes you happy.  For some people it’s a trip to the mall.  For others it’s an unexpected call from a friend.  But what about the ‘why.’  Why are we happy when we’re happy?  It’s a question that Harvard scholar Shawn Achor spent nearly 10 years researching. His work examined brain chemistry, psychology, sociological factors, and personal habits that impact happiness.  And here’s what Shawn and his team concluded:  You can rewire your brain for happiness.

Imagine what this means.  You can re-wire your brain so that you’re fundamentally more happy.  A happier you. Every day.  Although I will surely advise you to do your own research on Mr. Achor I can cut to the chase for the sake of the blog: certain activities that are conducted over the course of 21 days will re-wire the ‘happiness’ function in your brain by causing greater dopamine production/release.  In other words, 21 days of ‘happy’ behaviors create a chemical reward system that wants to be reinforced.  I’m 4 days in to this program and I’m excited to see the results.  The very very worst thing that can happen is that you’ll have done some good along the way.  Here’s how the program breaks out: You have to complete the following 5 activities for 21 days:

1) 3 ‘thank you’s’ to people in your life, circles, work, etc.  This has been fascinating.  I’ve now sent 12 ‘thank you’s’ to people and have a 100% return on “Awwww, thank you!’ in return.  It’s amazing.

2) 1 journal entry of something that is good in your life.  Here’s my note for the day: “Mink oil reminds of my dad, and how he used to rub it in to my baseball gloves, ski gloves, and everything that was leather–always.”

3) Meditate.  This is challenging for some.  Meditation is about being quiet.  Breathing.  Focused unfocus.  It’s a beautifully relaxing exercise.  Turn off the phone, turn off the computer, find a quiet place and say a few “Om.”

4) Exercise.  Not much to say about this.  It helps you relax and releases all sorts of stress

5) Random or Not Random Act of Kindness.  I love this.  Do something unexpected for either a person you know or a person you don’t.  So far I’ve filled up a gas tank, put $15 bucks worth of food in a food bank, bought a back pack for a student, and bought some groceries for a person in need.  It doesn’t have to be a big expenditure but it feels great helping others in need.  It’s just rewarding.

According to Mr. Achor the result of doing these 5 things for 21 days is a dopamine increase in your body and a general re-wire in terms of how happy you are.  Just imagine.

And here’s added benefit: Mr. Achor’s research states that happier people are 31% more productive than folks that are either ‘normal’ or ‘depressed.’  So in the process of helping others you’ll help yourself!

Give it a go–be happy.  You deserve it.  .

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