Today’s post is inspired by August being “Happiness Happens Month”
What makes you happy? Happiness Happens Month is a whole month dedicated to celebrating what makes you happy. The holiday is based on the premise that happiness is unlimited and contagious and that sharing one’s happiness and can bring a lot of joy in other people’s lives. Even though Happiness Happens Month sounds silly, it does have a very important purpose. “The month reminds us that happiness happens one small moment at a time and it’s our job to recognize those moments when they happen. It reminds us that sometimes a small action boosts our happiness. It reminds us that happiness is a personal experience and it’s also contagious!”
Happiness is a topic I (and most people) don’t focus on enough. In fact, I’ve only written one piece on happiness thus far, but I believe it is the most important piece on the blog, “Everything Is Amazing and Nobody Is Happy“.
In the end all that should really matter is the happiness of you and your loved ones, but I’m sure that’s not being reflected in your actions and priorities. That’s why it’s nice to have a month dedicated to happiness to remind us that we can’t forget about it, and that we need to embrace it. That’s why today I’d like to challenge you all to complete the “21 Day Happiness Challenge“.
21 Day Happiness Challenge
The creator of the 21 Day Happiness Challenge is Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think, where he researches and teaches about positive psychology. The challenge and Shawn hit the national stage in his famous Ted Talk, “The happy secret to better work“.
We’ve found there are ways that you can train your brain to be able to become more positive. In just a two-minute span of time done for 21 days in a row, we can actually rewire your brain, allowing your brain to actually work more optimistically and more successfully. We’ve done these things in research now in every company that I’ve worked with, getting them to write down three new things that they’re grateful for for 21 days in a row, three new things each day. And at the end of that, their brain starts to retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.
Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it. Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters. 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 and allows our brains to focus on the task at hand. And finally, random acts of kindness are conscious acts of kindness. We get people, when they open up their inbox, to write one positive email praising or thanking somebody in their support network.
That’s it, in 21 days you can begin to train your brain to become more positive. All you need to do is complete these 5 tasks, every single day:
- Write down three new things you’re grateful for
- Journal about one positive experience you’ve had that day
- Commit a random act of kindness
The good news is, if you’re a frequent reader of the blog, you’ll be well versed in all of these habits because I’ve written about them this year. I mentioned the 5 Minute Journal in this post, the app that gets you to write down three things you’re grateful for and three positive experiences from your day.
My good friend Jon Wehausen did an amazing Q&A with me about staying active with a 9-5 job which will help you get your exercise in for the 21 days. (You can view the Q&A here).
Finally, I touched on a few meditation apps which will allow you to easily pick up the practice for 21 days in my last post. The only gap left for you to fill is a random act of kindness. I think this is best left up to you as well, try something new every day. Take a friend out to lunch, reconnect with an old colleague, hold the door for someone, tell someone you love them…the possibilities are endless.
And if you’re thinking, why should I do this challenge and care about happiness? Shawn Anchor had that covered as well.
“Why do you waste your time studying happiness at Harvard? What does a Harvard student possibly have to be unhappy about?”
Embedded within that question is the key to understanding the science of happiness. Because what that question assumes is that our external world is predictive of our happiness levels, when in reality, if I know everything about your external world, I can only predict 10% of your long-term happiness. 90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And if we change it, if we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change the way that we can then affect reality. What we found is that only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ, 75 percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.
90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. That is truly groundbreaking. The circumstance your dealt and situation you are in only accounts for 10% of your long term happiness. I challenge you all to take a stand this month and embark on the 21 Day Happiness Challenge with me. Please feel free to reach out via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to talk about how the challenge went for you.