I have a pretty strong bent toward positive psychology and cultivating good mental health. I see happiness, joy, positivity, courage and confidence as things I can choose and cultivate in my life. I see them as deliberate thoughts and choices I make every day. It’s my version of faith and nurturing my spirituality. I also use many of these principles in my coaching and consulting practices and workshops.
Back in 2012, I created my own meme on Instagram called #do2012 and it was my way of documenting small things each day that gave me a small amount of joy. I noted big things like finally having my first surf lesson after wanting to book one for three years, to getting an ice-cream in the middle of a stressful day at work. This was a mental health survival strategy during a very difficult year.
A few months ago (while listening to the Life Habits podcast while out running), I discovered the Happier.com social network. Accessed via the Happier app, it’s a fun gratitude journal combined with a positive social community full of people from around the world all sharing the things that make them happy. And everyone here is ‘doing happy’ – there is no pressure to post styled images with your entries, or to be terribly unique or inspiring, and you can’t even tell easily how many people are following you – taking off some of the pressure of other social platforms (at least, that’s how I see it!).
Although I went to this app with hesitation about taking on yet another social network, I find myself returning to it easily and without expectation. And when my mood is feeling particularly ‘challenged’ in the happy department, I deliberately try and post at least three things that I have to be happy about, and I know they will be received by my followers wholeheartedly – I don’t feel shy about posting these things here. The app helps me plug back into being mindful of choosing my thoughts carefully.
So cheers to a bit of social goodness that strives for happiness! I hope you’re inspired to keep track of the small happy moments in your day, and feel awesome when they help someone else smile too.
Still not convinced? Consider the science behind Happier, taken from their website below. Enjoy. x
:: Focus on, capture and appreciate small positive moments in your life. Expressing gratitude has been shown to do more than improve your mood. People who write down a few positive things about their day are healthier, more energetic, less stressed and anxious, and get better sleep.
:: Surround yourself with happier people. Happiness is contagious. Dr. Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, researchers Harvard and University of San Diego, found that each additional happy friend increases a person’s probability of being happy by about 9%.
:: Do nice things for others. Research has shown that spending money on others makes us happier than spending money on ourselves and doing small acts of kindness increases life satisfaction.
:: Spend more time with family and friends. Having friends can save your life. Low social interaction can be as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is twice as bad for your health as obesity.
:: Spend money on experiences instead of things. Research shows people report feeling happier when they spend their money on experiences rather than objects.
:: Get moving. You only need to get moving for 20 minutes to start feeling happier. When you exercise endorphins are released in your brain and you feel awesome.
:: Set goals and don’t make them too easy. Studies have shown that working towards challenging goals makes people happier and actually suppresses negative feelings along with increasing positive ones.
:: Donate to a cause you care about. Scientists have used functional MRI to show that giving to a charity causes brain activity in the same regions involved when you feel pleasure or reward.
:: Get more sleep! Researchers have shown that about 6 hours of sleep a night is the amount of sleep that makes people the happiest.
:: Try and learn new things. People who have a variety of experiences have more positive emotions than those who have fewer variety.
:: Being happier isn’t just more fun. It’s important for living well and being healthy. Here are just a few reasons why:
:: People who think more positively are 50% less likely to have a heart attack, catch a cold or the flu.
:: People with a “positive emotional style” have been found to have better immunity to cold and influenza viruses.
:: Being more optimistic reduces your risk of having a stroke or becoming depressed.
:: Happier people live longer. Adults shown to be pessimists based on psychological tests had higher death rates over a 30-year-period than optimists (optimists were more likely to take better care of themselves and be healthier).