Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My happiness challenge

This is a challenge for me, not for you... unless you want to do it.  I listened to Shawn Achor's TED talk, here.  It moved me.  It confirmed all the suspicions I have about happiness being a choice I can make for myself.  First of all, this guy really does seem happy.  And, secondly, he appeals to my box checking nature by giving me a list of things to do to achieve happiness.  I'm challenging myself to give this project 21 days. 

Send an Appreciative Email:
Shawn suggests we search our address book and choose one of the members of our social support system (friends, co-workers, classmates, family members, teachers, neighbors) and take two minutes to write an email praising or thanking that person.  I'm planning to not only search my address book, but look at my fb friends (the ones I know irl) and send these messages.  I can absolutely see the way these emails would improve my happiness.  And, I can see they work for the recipients, as well.  I know it would be a bright spot in my day to receive an email thanking or praising me.  I can also see this is going to be one of the tougher boxes for me to check.  This is going to involve interaction.  This is not always my strong suit.  Wish me luck.   

Smiling Is Contagious:
Evidently luxury hotels know a lot about smiling=happier guests.  Many luxury hotels have a standard for their employees to smile at a person when they are walking around the hotel and come within 10 feet of a guest.  They are encouraged to say "hello" or some equivalent when the come within 5 feet of the guest.  When an employee smiles at a guest, the guest usually smiles back.  That smile is contagious.  Our brains perceive that smile as a feeling of happiness.  (evidently, you can cause this happiness response in your brain just by biting on a pen in your mouth.  the act of biting on a pen causes the corners of your mouth to turn up and your brain perceives this as a smile and feels happiness.  who knew?)

Give Thanks:
Gratitude is critical to happiness.  It shifts us from focusing on what is missing in our lives to focusing on all the blessings we DO have.  Shawn asks me to think of three things I am grateful for each day before I go to sleep.  This is another twofer in the challenge towards happiness.  I get to focus on gratitude while I think of the three things, AND I get to spend part of my day seeking out things I am grateful for while I move through my day.

Never Give Up On the Good Times:
Journal one positive thing that happened each day.  This is another twofer in the quest for happiness.  Each day I will have to notice a positive thing that happens to me.  Then, each evening, I will get to relive the positive thing that happened to me by having the opportunity to journal it.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll share some of the positive things that happen to me on my blog.  It's going to be a challenge for me to notice the positive.  I am super good at finding flaws.  I am not as good at noticing the positive.  This one will, most likely, make huge changes in me if I can do it for 21 days.  Fingers crossed.

Have Fun:
Shawn asks me to add 15 minutes of fun to my day.  This fun has to be active fun.  It has to involve movement.  Let's face it, it's exercise.  For 15 minutes each day I have to get up and move around.  I have to dance, or walk, or jump, or garden, or do yoga, or bike.  I have to train my body that movement=fun.  We all know how much I love exercise.  This is going to be a snap..., not.

Finally, I am asked to meditate each night before I go to sleep for two minutes.  Just focus on my breathing for two minutes.  Just focus on this one thing.  This is thought to help my brain calm down and move from multitasking to sleep.  Focusing on just one thing, for example my breathing, can slow the brain down and allow for better sleep.  Finally, a thing I think I can do without too much trouble.  Thankfully there is this one thing I know I can do.

This is a 21 day project.  I'm going to give it a go and see what results I find in myself.  I'm excited.  I'm going to be gentle with myself and not get too focused on box checking and get more focused on results.  I'm putting my happiness in my own hands.  Wish me luck.  :)

235.  Hot baths
236.  Giving myself permission to relax
237.  Night-time cold medicine
238.  Sunshine
239.  Learning that the absence of disease isn't health
240.  Getting ready to smile for no reason what-so-ever (yeah, I'm a little scared)


  1. woot...what a cool project...will be fun to see your journey through share as i imagine it will generate a few good stories for

  2. I like to smile at people in service situations - like the harried check out people and baggers at the grocery store. I did that yesterday and called the bagger by name and received a startled smile in return.

  3. This appeals to my box checking nature, too. I might give this a try myself!


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