Psychologist Shawn Actor has posed an interesting question: What if our formula for happiness is backwards?
Many of us are in pursuit of a better job, a higher salary, or some idolized item to get that “happiness” we’ve always wished for. Yet many studies have consistently shown that these outside sources rarely make us as happy as we’ve anticipated.
In this brilliant TedTalk on happiness, Actor reveals an amazing stat: “90% of your long term happiness is not predicted by your external world, but by the way your brain processes it.”
So how is it that we train our brains to optimally process the world? Actor claims we could get there by trying the following over 21 days:
Begin the day by calling to attention 3 things you’re grateful for. By continuing this for 21 days, your brain will begin to automatically adopt this “attitude of gratitude.”
Try journaling about what made you happy over the last 24 hours. Journaling in detail allows yourself to relive the experience and prolong your happy emotions.
Aside from the endorphins released, exercise reminds us that our physiology can impact our mental state.
Shawn Actor suggestions that meditation may be the solution to our overstimulated brains. Between thinking about the past, stressing over the future, and mentally juggling the many tasks already on our plate, meditation suspends the fluctuations of the mind and allows us to focus intently.
Random Acts of Kindness
Similar to practicing gratitude, kindness trains our brain to focus on and manifest positive emotions. Random acts of kindness allow us to bring this into a social network, and effectively “create ripples” of perpetual happiness.
To learn more about the science of happiness and hear some surprising statistics, watch this hilariously brilliant and engaging talk from Shawn Actor. The 12 minute video in and of itself will make you happy, and the ending will inspire you to take on his happiness challenge. Enjoy!