Ask anyone what they want most out of life and they’ll probably say happiness. The problem is that we tend to look for it in all the wrong places.
The human brain is an amazing organ, and it is capable of so many things. Unfortunately, one of the things it is not good at is predicting what will make us happy.
Common Myths about happiness
Money makes you happy
This is one of the most common mistakes people make regarding happiness. Oftentimes our goals in life center around money and success. The truth is that money is important. But nowhere near as important as we think it is. Once your basic needs are being met, money does not make you any happier. In fact A recent study from Perdu University found that earning more then $105,000 actually decreased peoples happiness. Similarly the University of the West of England found that an increase of 20 minutes to your commute is as detrimental as a decrease of 19% in your salary. And yet most of would be willing to accept a 20 minute longer commute for an increase of even 10% to our salaries \
Getting married will make you happy
This is something we hear all the time. And a lot of us have internalized it. But the truth is that unhappily married people are actually unhappier then people who are not married. Similarly when unhappily married people get divorced, they actually become happier. What does make us happier, is developing close and intimate relationships with anyone, including our friends. So if you are not married don’t sweat it. What you should be working on is developing close relationships with the people you do have in your life, whether it is family or friends.
Landing your dream job will make you happy
If you ask a university student what will make them happy, they will probably talk about getting that perfect job. And it’s not just university students. Most people think success in their career is an important step to happiness. But in reality being promoted or getting your ideal job will not make you any happier then you currently are. It will probably give you a boost in your well being, but that’s temporary. Soon after achieving the success that you thought would make you happy, you’ll adapt to it. And soon after that you’ll start thinking that the next job, or the next promotion will make you happy.
What actually makes us happy
Fortunately for us researchers have been studying this age old question, and have found the things that do make us happy. While the 30 day happiness challenge goes into each of these factors in a lot more detail (and provides daily actionable steps to make you happy) the following list is a quick recap for you to take a look at.
While it may seem counterintuitive, giving gifts to others makes us happier then receiving gifts. Volunteering, charity and just generally helping other people has been found to do wonders for our happiness and well-being.
Gratitude / Positive thinking
This is one of our favorite ways of cultivating happiness, because of how quick and easy it is. Thinking of 3 things that you are grateful, takes only a few minutes, and yet has an immeasurable impact on your happiness levels. During the challenge you will develop simple ways to view situations in a more positive light, and to express gratitude for all the blessings you have in your life.
Mindfulness is the ability to stay focused and aware in the present moment, and to accept ones emotions, feelings and thoughts regardless of whether they are positive and negative. Engaging in mindful activities rewires your brain and provides invaluable benefits not only to your happiness level, but to your health, longevity and creativity. While the concept of mindfulness can sometimes be difficult to grasp, our 30 day happiness challenge demystifies it by providing simple practices that you can incorporate in your daily life.
Making use of your signature strengths
Your signature strengths refer to the character strengths that you have. Not only do these strengths define who you are as a person, but they also energize. Particularly once you start using them more regularly in your everyday life. These strengths will help you determine the core of your personality, and allow you to live your life in accordance with your values. During the 30 day happiness challenge you will learn what your individual signature strengths are , and develop a strategy to incorporate it in your daily life.
Finding meaning & purpose your life
Finding meaning in our lives helps us feel more content and satisfied. During the last week of the challenge you will focus on understanding what you want out of your life, so that you can live according to the values & principles that are important to you.
One of the happiness myths we identified was that getting married brings about happiness. It’s true that being in a happy marriage will most certainly make you happier. However research has found that unmarried people are actually happier then those who are in unhappy marriages. Furthermore, developing and nurturing your close relationships, regardless of the relationship type, will do wonders for your well being.
What this 30 Day Happiness Challenge includes
- Learn the science behind happiness
- Create a map for a meaningful life
- Develop habits that will make you a happier person
- Change your brain to be happier
- Complete daily activities to release dopamine in your brain, and make you a happier person.
Videos to watch in the first week of the challenge
During the first week of the 30 day challenge, you will learn how to change your brain to become a happier person. To keep track of your progress, mark each day as complete when you are done.
- Day 1 – The surprising science of happiness
- Day 2 – What makes a good life
- Day 3 – Daily habits that will make you happier
- Day 4 – After watching this, your brain will not be the same
- Day 5 – A map for a meaningful life
- Day 6 – How hormones Influence your mind
- Day 7 – How changing your story can change your life
Week 2 - Think Happy thoughts
Thinking more positively, makes you feel happier. Complete the activities below, and mark them as complete to keep track of your progress
- Day 8 – Loving kindness meditation
- Day 9 – Thank someone for what they’ve done for you
- Day 10 – Write down a positive experience that you have experienced
- Day 11 – Journal, or think about the things that motivate you in life
- Day 12 – Write down 3 things you have succeeded in/done well in
- Day 13 – Tell a loved one what you appreciate most about them
- Day 14 – Complete positive affirmations
Week 3 - Happiness Just because
This week you will do activities that release dopamine in your brain and make you feel good about yourself.
- Day 15 – Sit outdoors and breathe in the fresh air
- Day 16 – Sing out loud to some cheerful music in your car
- Day 17 – Buy yourself some flowers or chocolate just because
- Day 18 – Put on a scented candle and drink a cup of tea
- Day 19 – Watch a feel good movie or read a good book
- Day 20 – Exercise for 15 minutes
- Day 21 – Put on music in the car and sing out loud
Week 4 - Positivity / Relationships
- Day 22 – Talk to a neighbor or someone on the street
- Day 23 – Journal about an experience that made you happy.
- Day 24 – Plan a night out with friends/family
- Day 25 – Do a mindfulness meditaiton
- Day 26 Spend the day without social media
- Day 27 – Call a friend up and talk to them
- Day 28 – Write down 3 things that you are grateful for
Week 5 - Going forward