For many years now, since first establishing The Happiness Institute and effectively devoting my professional life to the promotion of positive psychology principles, I’ve been suggesting to anyone who’d listen that…
…enjoying happiness requires little more than practising a few simple disciplines each and every day.
Happiness is, in other words, simply the result of the consistent enacting of the right type of behaviours; positive habits.
The good news is that after decades of research into the science of thriving and flourishing we know well what these positive habits are. And it’s my great pleasure to provide you here with a brief summary of all my years of experience and research; a brief summary of what I describe in my new Audiobook – Habits for Happiness:
Create a vision
So many people go through life without ever really knowing what they want; what their ideal is. Yet we can’t achieve our dreams if we don’t first define our dreams. Set aside some time, therefore, to create a vision of your best possible life; in all the different life domains (work, personal, relationships, wellbeing, finances, spirituality etc)
Find a way to win
following on from the first habit, creating your positive vision is just the first step. You now need to determine what you need to do and how you’re going to do it to turn your ideal into reality. So, what you need to do now is break down your vision in to small, achievable goals
Positivity is often underrated, or seen as frivolous. But genuine positive emotion has been shown to create motivation and inspiration and energy which can then fuel your efforts to do what you need to do to complete the first 2 habits
Face your fears
Living a happy or a great life isn’t always easy, and it shouldn’t always be “comfortable”. Extending ourselves beyond our comfort zones can help us learn important lessons about ourselves and boost our self-belief that we can do what we want and need to do
Exercise; or if you prefer, just dance
The activity of some sort, whether it’s formal exercise or not, is good for our physical health BUT it’s also very good for our mental health. Exercise is an effective anti-depressant, a great stress buster and a mood enhancer (a habit that will indubitably create more happiness)
Sleep your way to the top
Many people recognise the benefits of eating a healthy diet and exercising but not enough realise the importance of good sleep and rest. It’s hard to be happy if you’re tired and exhausted all the time. Prioritise sleep and you’ll reap the rewards
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
This is NOT a sign of weakness! None of us can do it all on our own; and we all need to ask for help sometimes. In fact, research clearly suggests that happier and more resilient people have stronger relationships and use these connections more effectively to live better lives
And in parallel with the previous habit, make giving a habit too. There are times you’ll need to ask for help and times you can provide help. Both are important aspects of living a good life and as they say … in giving we receive
Focus on what’s going right
This isn’t to say we should completely ignore what’s going wrong. There will always be problems and we need to acknowledge these and deal with them as best we can. At the same time, however, there will always be lots of good in the world, and in your world; good people doing good things and positive progress in areas that are important. It’s easy to forget or discount these; but we shouldn’t
Forgive others (and yourself)
Even if you practice all of the previous 9 habits consistently and effectively you won’t ever be perfect. None of us are. We all make mistakes and others will make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes will hurt us; or lead to us feeling hurt. That’s why happy people make forgiveness one of their core habits. If we can forgive others, and ourselves, we can significantly minimise distress and allow ourselves to enjoy more happiness
Like most things in life, practising and mastering these 10 habits for happiness is easier said than done; but it is possible. Practice, persevere, do your best and accept that doing your best might not ever be perfect but … that’s OK.
If you’d like to listen to Dr Sharp’s “Habits for Happiness”, an Audible Original, then click here for a more in-depth description of these 10 habits.