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 the truth is that 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. Mindfulness has the ability to rewire 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 our 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, they energize you 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 in our 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.
- Social connections
One of the happiness myths we identified was that getting married will make you happy. While that is not true, developing and nurturing your close relationships, regardless of the relationship type, will do wonders for your well being.
How to complete the 30 day positivity challenge
Week 1 - Think Happy thoughts
This week you will do activities that release dopamine in your brain and make you feel good about yourse
- Sit outdoors and breathe in the fresh air
- Sing out loud to some cheerful music in your car
- Watch a ted talk on positivity
- Put on some music and dance
- Buy yourself some flowers or chocolate just because
- Put on a scented candle and drink a cup of tea
- Watch a feel good movie or read a good book
- Put on music in the car and sing out loud
Week 5 - Going forward