Homework for Happiness
Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage has done work on the brain and happiness and how we can retrain the brain to scan for the good things in life—to help us see more possibility, to feel more energy, and to succeed at higher levels. Using Achor’s research and findings, Walter Chen, founder of iDoneThis stated four very simple interventions that can over time; actually rewire your brain to see things more positively. On a productivity blog buffer, Chen stated, “That whenever you do specific tasks over and over again, they take up less of your brain power over time.” So how do you do this?
- Scan for the 3 daily positives. At the end of each day, make a list of three specific good things that happened that day and reflect on what caused them to happen. The good things could be anything — bumping into an old friend, a positive remark from someone at work, a pretty sunset. Celebrating small wins also has a proven effect of powering motivation and igniting joy. As you record your good things daily, the better you will get and feel. Create a happiness journal or place in a huge container for everyone to see.
- Give one shout-out to someone (daily). This is a great idea! Take the positive things you’re getting better at recognizing and let people know you’ve noticed. Take a minute to say thanks or recognize someone for their efforts, from friends and family to people at work. A great way to go about this is by sending 1 daily email to someone. It can be a grade level partner, whose advice you are now appreciating every day. A neighbor you’ve just met. Show courage and say thanks.
- Do something nice. Acts of kindness boost happiness levels. Something as small and simple as making someone smile works. Pausing to do something thoughtful has the power to get you out of that negativity loop. Do something nice that is small and concrete. (Classroom- sharpening a pencil for a friend, Work Team-taking notes and making copies for an upcoming meeting, Family-taking the dog for a walk without being told)
- Mind your mind. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Opening our awareness beyond the narrowness of negativity can help bring back more balance and positivity into the picture.
The lab-validated truth is that happiness brings us more success. Make it a research project. Try this out with your class, your colleagues, or your family and see if you begin to see any different outcomes in your classroom objectives, your team member’s goals, or your family member’s happiness.
Sounds too simple, doesn’t it. What would the world be like if we were just a little happier? I see this homework as being heartfelt, healthy, and helpful in being the great person you can be!