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5 Ways to Create More Happiness in Your Life

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by John Austin in Behavior change, Reinforcement, Stress

Take a moment right now and think of a memory you have of a time you were super happy.

What were the conditions? How did it happen? Who else was there?

…this is a reflection exercise based on the science of happiness that you can use to boost your happiness. When you have 5 minutes during your day, practicing this technique can have a positive impact.

Did you ever wish that happy moment you imagined would go on forever? I mean, isn’t that what most of us are striving for, after all? More happiness, more often, and more consistently occurring? This, along with less pain and less suffering…?

…according to the research in the science of Happiness, or Positive Psychology, the way we think of happiness is often misguided. For instance, we know that happiness is not a place you go to live forever, but more like a vacation spot you can visit for short periods of time.

Also, whereas happiness is something that just happens to us sometimes, we know the actions that any of us can take to more reliably produce it in our lives.

My friend Bob Cummins and I ran a free webinar to discuss what we can do to not only create the conditions for happiness in our lives, but also to be more flexible when moving through negative or painful situations.

You can see the full webinar here:

One of the topics we covered in the webinar that is important to leaders I work with – and also just about every other person I encounter, too – is the idea of time poverty or time famine.

Even though objective measures of time show that we have more discretionary time in every day than ever before, people report the feeling that they have less time than ever. They report feeling more stressed, rushed, and overworked than ever.

Working at home more and more these days, people are finding that the line between work and ‘life’ is becoming more blurred than ever. I see people working from the kitchen table, with family members walking past them, and not having a dedicated space to sit and think properly. People are reporting more and more musculoskeletal pains and injuries from ill-equipped and ill-fitting workstations.

In the webinar we discuss some things you can do to improve your perception of time affluence, or the feeling that you have enough time to pursue activities that are personally meaningful. One of these things is very simple and yet effective – buy back some of your time by hiring out low-preference things.  Hiring out grocery shopping, lawn mowing, house cleaning, dry cleaning, laundry, and even healthy dinners is now at each of our fingertips, and the science suggests that it makes us happier. To be specific, it makes us happier than buying an equally priced physical item.

Some other happiness creating actions we discuss in the webinar include:

      • Exercise
      • Meditation or prayer
      • Gratitude and Giving
      • Connection

How do you bring this knowledge into the workplace?

Of course, educating your workforce about happiness-creating actions and even giving them small amounts of time to engage in some of these or helping them form groups to promote these and other actions are ways employers can promote happiness and help their workforce reduce stress.

Helping people to manage their time and interactions with others more effectively, and helping leaders to coach their teams to do this better is something that we focus on in our Behavioral Leadership courses.

Barry Schwartz argues that happiness at work is also a function of meaning, engagement, autonomy, control, and challenge, adding in his book that “workers prefer jobs that allow for meaning and independence and creativity. And employers should prefer those jobs too, since that ultimately helps their bottom line.”
Schwartz, B. (2015). Why we work. Simon and Schuster.

There is even some research to suggest that people who are happier in their jobs engage in something called, “Job crafting” which is a skill people develop to re-frame what they see as the meaning in their career, so it’s more to them than just a way to make money. Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski found this to be true in lots of occupations, but on a recent episode of The Happiness Lab she tells the story of how job crafting was the differentiator between the happiest and least happy custodial staff at a hospital. Those who were happier saw their job as a way of helping to save the lives of patients or making them heal faster.

Practicing

There are many things you can do to improve your happiness and the happiness of the people who work with or for you.  The problem is, you just have to do them. Creating new habits is more than half of the battle, and learning behavioral science is your ticket to reducing frustrations, improving performance, and getting more out of your life, as well as helping others to get more out of their lives.

If you are interested in learning more about how behavioral science education can help you create a more effective work environment for your teams, please reach out to us here.

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