“Our idea of happiness is completely backwards.”
That was the best, most unconventional thing that I learned about happiness.
Recently, I was reading a book called “The Happiness Equation” by Neil Pasricha.
This book is basically EVERYTHING about how you can be happy.
As I’m reading this book, I found happiness habits that will make you a happier person starting tomorrow.
“Sow a habit, reap a character”, as Stephen Covey says.
If you haven’t done even one of these happiness habits already, then, starting tomorrow, you will:
- …create greater quality of work that gets you results
- …experience a stress-free day for the first time
- …have more satisfaction in work, life, and relationships
- …start becoming a happier version of yourself
So, why even bother building habits for happiness anyway?
In Neil Pasricha’s book, he said that our idea of happiness is completely backwards.
Specifically, in his book, he said that there are 6 words that we get totally wrong.
Those are (in the same order):
- Great Work
- Big Success
- Be Happy
But here’s the thing that we don’t realize: our idea of “Big Success” is dynamic.
Think about it: It’s not that “rich businessmen want to get even richer,” they’re just striving for more because they can.
You can actually say the same to employees or students who “wants to get a better grade to be happy” or a “promotion to be happy.” Because they can.
Do you know someone who said they wanted to get their dream job in order to be happy?
And then? They wanted a promotion?
What’s that? They got the promotion, but now they wanted fewer responsibilities?
And it goes on and on and on.
Do you get the point? The idea that “Big Success” will make us happy is totally delusional.
All of our aspirations and ideals of “Big Success” are for entirely good reasons. Maybe it’s to make someone proud. Maybe it’s to live a better life.
Whatever it is, we still have something we need to put in our damn brains: Being Happy comes first.
That’s right. Here’s what it should look like (in order):
- Be Happy
- Great Work
- Big Success
And now, everything makes total sense.
When I was still in college, I said just graduating will make me happy.
When I graduated, I said getting my Engineering license would make me happy.
When I started reviewing for my licensure exam, I said getting to the top will make me happy.
When I landed a 6th place in the nationwide licensure exams, I said having a job that will give me both time and money will make me happy.
But then, I wondered, “Was I even happy when I reached those goals?”
Nope. Not even once.
Whenever I almost reached “Big Success”, I just strived for MORE.
In this culture of MORE, we never know what is ENOUGH.
So, what are the habits that we can develop in order to become happy first?
Here are the easy ones that anyone can do now.
Note: It’s not necessary to do ALL of them, just do one and you’ll already be infinitely happier 🙂
6 Happiness Habits That Will Change Your Life
#1. Three Walks
Walking three times a week not only makes you burn calories easily and more accessibly, but also makes your mind more healthy.
Fitness-wise, if you just take three 20-minute walks a week, that’s equivalent to 300 extra calories burned.
What that means is that you’ll lose 1 lb of pure fat in 10 weeks. Effortlessly.
That, by the way, is equivalent to the size of a mug.
If you take three 20-minute walks a week, your thoughts “become louder”.
That’s where the greatest ideas come from due to “diffuse mode thinking”, a mode of thinking that isn’t specific to any part of the brain.
It’s responsible for our “breakthrough” ideas because it can navigate through unrelated ones easily.
If you ask any great artist, inventor, or entrepreneur, 99% of the time you will NOT hear them say “I got all of this inspiration while I was too busy focusing on something else.”
If you take three 20-minute walks a week, you will become happier.
Studies have shown that people who exercise experience less stress and are happier in general.
Do you know someone really, really active, but is always stressed? Hmm, me neither.
The reason for this is that exercising releases natural “feel good” hormones in our body.
Try it for yourself.
Get leaner. Maximize your creativity. Become happier.
#2. Random Acts of Kindness
Doesn’t it make you feel good when you just did something good?
Well, this act, when performed at least 5 times a week (according to the book), makes a significant difference in your happiness.
It could be just holding the door open for someone.
If you’re driving, it could be just yielding/giving way for other cars.
If you’re in a relationship, it could be just saying thank you more often, or “going out of your way.”
The point is, it’s not only good for your relationships with other people but also makes you a happier person overall.
#3. Random Thoughts of Gratitude
Always thinking of negative thoughts?
Well, here’s something we can borrow from pretty much all religions: gratefulness.
Let’s see how it works.
“But that’s common sense!”
Yeah, but common sense isn’t common action, apparently.
What’s good about doing this is that you can’t feel bad and feel grateful at the same time.
Practicing gratefulness makes you appreciate the little things in life that you most often take for granted:
- Being alive
- Having healthy food
- Being able to walk (or exercise)
- Being free from diseases (colds and fever sucks, if you can’t remember the feeling)
- And SOOOOSOSSOO much more.
You don’t even have to say it.
Just think about it. Feel grateful about it.
It takes just a fraction of a minute. So, do feel grateful from time to time whenever you feel that negativity is consuming your day.
I personally do this from time to time to remind me of the things that I already have, instead of thinking about what I don’t. It makes a MAJOR difference.
#4. Total “Unplug“
Tell me, when was the last time you were “alone with your thoughts”?
I suspect that you’re spending too much time with your smartphone.
Don’t believe me? Picture this:
You were falling in line, you don’t even know anyone in this line, and then suddenly, it gets pretty boring.
The line’s so freaking stagnant.
What do you do? Yes, you get your smartphone.
If that’s not you, then you’re lucky enough to avoid that constant, false-urgency companion.
If you don’t already know, social media has a TON of psychological triggers that make us use them a lot more than we want to.
Ever logged in to Facebook to message someone, and then ended up scrolling down your News Feed mindlessly and for no reason at all?
How about that red notification number that screams “OPEN ME” to your brain?
Oh, not to mention the Like button.
That Like button that Instagram, Facebook, and now Twitter uses in order to “hack our social approval mechanisms”.
You see, nowadays, even the most disciplined people can fall prey to these technologies because they are not neutral anymore.
Now, when using social media, what the heck do you see and feel?
You can pick here if you like:
- “New memes” and “Interesting” videos because they appeal to our “fear of missing out” and “novelty bias”
- Checking the notifications if there’s something new and interesting happening that involves you
- Checking how many likes or shares your clever post got
As you can see, these things aren’t even remotely urgent in our daily lives.
And guess what, they provide us the unhappiness that we so despise: Seeing happy pictures of friends, people traveling to places you wanted to go, comparing ourselves to others’ achievements, and sooooooooooo much more.
That’s why, periodically, we should do complete unplugs.
Unplugs set your priorities and expectations straight. Improves your attention span that the News Feed steals from you. Most importantly, prevents you from consuming content that harms your happiness.
So, for once, become a digital minimalist. You’ll thank me later for having changed your life.
#5. Hit Flow
Flow is simply “being in the zone.”
Have you ever experienced solving a really mentally challenging problem that milks every idea inside your brain?
It turns out that your experience of being in the zone is actually a thing in Positive Psychology.
Not only you would get EXTREMELY productive and finish tasks in a flash, but you’ll also get that feeling of insane control over it. You’ll feel invulnerable while doing it. Completely absorbed and satisfied with what you’re doing.
Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihaly is the one who popularized this idea, since it’s actually a thing in Positive Psychology.
In another article at Positive Psychology, he said that there are 8 ways to achieve flow:
- Complete concentration on the task;
- Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback;
- Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down);
- The experience is intrinsically rewarding;
- Effortlessness and ease;
- There is a balance between challenge and skills;
- Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination;
- There is a feeling of control over the task.
In fact, when I was doing this article, I was in the middle of a “Flow” state.
Words just kept coming in without me even thinking hard about it, unlike during other days of my work where I was reaaaaaaaaaaally “stuttering”, or having “writer’s block”.
If you’re a blogger or a writer, or if you’ve ever written an extremely long research paper before, you absolutely can relate to this situation.
Anyway, when I was doing this article, I never ever experienced any kind of stress whatsoever.
Everything’s just plain natural, with me just completely focusing on the task–not realizing it’s already bedtime! (it actually is)
And so, I created this positive experience with my work.
So, increase your work satisfaction by achieving Flow with whatever you’re working on.
Productivity, Satisfaction, and Happiness are what you get for it.
#6. 2-Minute Meditations
Okay, maybe you’re already thinking of monks in the Himalayas because you read “Meditation”.
Let me debunk this idea that you have to spend a whole freaking day sitting and doing nothing–it’s just impractical for us to do!
Just a little time for the day will suffice.
But what exactly will 2-minute meditations do for your life?
Here’s a list of things that meditation will give you (I’ll try to market meditation more effectively, don’t worry):
- Become a stress-free person that’s smiling all the time (okay, not all the time. But more often)
- Experience less anxiety and improve your performance on everything DRASTICALLY
- Catch yourself thinking of negative thoughts to become reaaaaally (I find this funny)
- Improve your attention span. Now you can watch 8 minute informational videos instead of 8-second memes!
- Decrease your blood pressure, so you don’t take that emergency medicine ever again
- Meditation reduces the amount of sleep you need to become well-rested! This means 8 hours of sleep CAN equal 10 hours of your sleep before you started meditation
Okay, now, you may have heard of studies that say that a minimum of 20 or 30 minutes of meditation will give the most optimal results in a minimum amount of time.
However, is it really possible for people to transition from an extremely stimulated life of smartphones and busyness, to 20-30 minutes of thinking about a single thing the whole time?
I say that’s highly impractical.
That’s why we use the 2-minute rule.
When we transform a habit that we want into a 2-minute version, NOW you don’t have an excuse not to do it.
When you’re starting a habit of “take 30 minute walks or jogs per day”, and you’ve never even done it before, do you really expect yourself to stick to that grueling activity?
OF COURSE NOT.
Establish a habit first, before you improve it! (as James Clear says)
So, sit down wherever quiet and start doing nothing! (I lol’ed)
Before you leave, let me ask you something:
What was the one habit in this list that you think will make a significant difference in your happiness?
Leave a comment down below and share this post if you liked it!
As always, thanks for reading!