A 20/20 news special recently confirmed that we have a large measure of control over our own levels of happiness — at least 40 percent within our own control, according to researchers interviewed. Only 10 percent is circumstantial and about 40 to 50 percent is genetic. Most interesting is the notion that you can change your brain — and your circumstances — if you are committed to being happy. Here are four ways to get started.
- Meditate to change brain patterns
- Focus on the positive
- Build Rewarding Relationships
- Find your flow
Meditate: Neuroscience researchers report that our brains are just waiting to be transformed.
If you only sit quietly for 30 minutes a day your brain will show noticeable changes in two weeks. If you are worried that you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, try 10 minutes. Even sitting quietly for a short time will make a big difference. Efficiency experts Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power of Full Engagement, say that the longer, more continuously, and later in the evening you work, the less efficient and more mistake-prone you become. The point is, we need to rejuvenate ourselves. Meditation is one way to revitalize our energy.
Focus on the positive
Have you heard the saying, “what you focus on expands?” It’s not just a bunch of fluff. Dr. Richard Davidson, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin studied Monks who dedicate their life to focusing on positive thoughts of compassion and kindness. Davidson said the monks’ happiness is “off the charts.”
Build rewarding relationships
Relationships are the biggest source of happiness at work and outside of work. One reason Denmark is the happiest place in the world is because their focus is on community. Ninety-two percent of Danes belong to some kind of a social club and guess what? The government pays for it! That’s a big contrast to most Americans I know who make excuses and say they are too busy to join in extra activities.
Relationships are what matter at work too. One of the people profiled on the 20/20 show was Sean Aiken, a guy who decided to try as many jobs as he could to find his bliss. Sean realized after working 52 jobs in 52 weeks, trying everything from dairy farming to stock trading, that it is not the work that matters; it’s who you work with that matters. His website, in case you are interested, is at www.oneweekjob.com.
Find your Flow
Some people find their flow in their life calling, others find it in some sort of activity. The flow is something you feel when you are totally absorbed and happy with the present moment.
I believe I have found my calling, and I’m pretty much in the flow while coaching, speaking or training. I’ve been meditating and studying the effect of positive thought for the last five years, but something was still missing. I finally figured it out. It was putting more fun into my life…things I like to do that have absolutely nothing to do with business.
At the end of 2007 I signed up for dance lessons. That’s right, I’m taking Cha Cha Cha and Salsa. The instructor, Alex, is someone I just love to have in my life so this fills the relationship bill too. I decided to take some ice skating lessons, too. Every time I visited a big city I saw people skating in the parks, I always wished I could join them. This year I decided to turn that longing into reality.
See? We really do have some control over our own happiness. We just have to remember that happiness isn’t about arriving at the destination it’s about enjoying the journey.
Marlene Chism is the founder of Attitude Builders, a monthly membership program helping busy leaders to develop their staff – as well as their own genius – with no prep, no plan and no problem. Good News Network members get a $50 discount! Use coupon code: goodnews
(Photos courtesy of Sun Star)