Since the dawn of late night television, everyone is working on their top 10 lists. Here is one list that is here to stay. Scientifically proven ways to make you happier.
1. Find Your Flow. If you can get ‘in the zone’ during your work day, it will not only make you more productive…it will make you happier. Think about your task and if it is a balance between challenge and your skill level. Easy way to adjust – either increase the challenge (make a game of how fast and accurately you can write that memo) or increase your skill level (learn Prezi before creating your next presentation).
2. More Good Than Bad. Research shows what we know instinctively to be true. That ‘bad is stronger than good’. When something bad happens we focus on it more. It impacts us to a greater degree. Good things happen and we forget about them. So in order to be happier we have to have cultivate more good things than bad in your life. What makes you happy? And how can you get more of it?
3. Create a Goal. Any goal. We often think that it is by reaching our goals that make us happier. But actually it is from striving for a goal that leads to our well-being.
4. Be with others. Even introverts are happier when they are with other people. So before you turn down that dinner date because you are too exhausted, remember that you will be happier at the end of the night and you might have been able to engage your curiosity as well.
5. See the Good. It builds the muscle of gratitude and helps counteract the negativity bias (our tendency to always see what is wrong). How can you “See the Good”? If before you go to bed you can write down three things that went well during the day, big or small, and what that thing means to you (could be a really nice croissant, a raise or a hug from your child) – it will make you happier, help you sleep better and give you better relationships.
6. Be Curious. It’s almost impossible to be curious and anxious at the same time. So take something that tends to make you anxious (for me, travel) and apply a lens of curiosity. “I wonder how long it will take me to get to the airport today?”
7. Do more of what you love. What are you really good at? And how can you do more of it? In crafting our goals for the next year people tend to focus on what they need to fix. But that is de-energizing and de-motivating. You perform much better when you focus on what you do well – your inherent strengths.
8. Argue with yourself. If your brain likes to say mean things to you, pretend you are an attorney arguing in front of the Supreme Court. Just because it popped into your head doesn’t make it true. If you’re one who catastrophizes think to yourself – what is the Worst Case Scenario? That probably came to you easily. Now what is the Best Case Scenario? (I call this the Oprah scenario….I got in a wreck, but I get written up in the paper, Oprah reads about it and she brings me on her show…you get the idea.) And finally what is the Most Likely Scenario? Somewhere in the middle of the other two. And what can you do about the most likely – develop a plan of action.
9. Ask a Weak Tie. You know that you need to ask for a favor every once in a while. But don’t go to the people you always go to. Prof. Adam Grant (author of Give and Take) would call those people ‘strong ties’. But they have the same network that you do. Instead ask someone that you used to know but isn’t in your network anymore.
10. Celebrate others. When someone comes to you with good news take a few minutes. Ask them some questions. Where were you when you got the news? How are you feeling about it? What are you excited about? Research shows that when you help others celebrate their good news you are happier too.
So go on, give them a try and we’d love to hear what you thought. Comment below.