Happiness Experiment No 41: change a tiny habit

Changing our habits can be very challenging and it is often difficult to stay motivated. Behaviour researcher BJ Fogg has come up with a clever way to overcome this by creating his theory of tiny habits.  Instead of focusing on big changes like getting really fit or losing 10kg he suggests focusing on tiny sustainable changes which require little or no motivation.  The theory works especially well when you attach the new behaviour change to an already existing habit and perform the new habit after the established habit. For example, after I brush my teeth I will floss one tooth.  After I get out of bed, I will do one sit up.  You can gradually increase the frequency until you are flossing all your teeth and doing many sits very morning.

My dog is currently on medication and I have to acquire a new daily habit of giving her a pill every day.  I remember to do this by saying to myself after I put on my dog’s lead to take her for a walk, I will give… Read the rest...

Let altruism be your guide

Yesterday I was amongst one of the lucky 800 people who attended an Action for Happiness event with buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard. 

altruism

Matthieu Ricard made the case that altruism is a powerful way to make decisions for both the short and long term benefit of humanity and the planet.  Matthieu defined altruism as the wish that other people can be happy and find the causes of happiness.  Empathy on the other hand is the affective resonance which tells you that others are joyful or are suffering.  However, empathy for another’s distress is not enough and can lead to burnout,  so loving kindness is needed to avoid this.

Matthieu Ricard argued that in order to have a more altruistic society we need both change at the individual level and at societal level.  “Is it possible for an individual to change?” he asked. 2000 years of contemplative studies say yes, 15 years of collaboration with neuroscience and epigenetics says yes.… Read the rest...

Happiness Experiment no 41: practice your eulogy virtues not your résumé skills

David Brooks suggests in this short TED talk that within each of us are two selves, the self who craves success, who builds a résumé, and the self who seeks connection, community, love — the values that make for a great eulogy. Can we balance these two selves? Perhaps, once we know them both.  We would probably all agree that the things we want to be remembered for, our eulogy virtues are probably not the things we spend the most time thinking about.  If we focus more on why we think we are here on this earth and less about what we want to achieve maybe it will be easier to tap in to the virtues which matter most in order to live a good life.  If we make each action we take or each thought we think a legacy question it is easier to focus on what matters.  I often ask myself before I take action: “Is this really what I want to be remembered for?” If the answer is no, perhaps it is better to make a different choice. Watch this inspiring TED talkRead the rest...

Happiness Experiment No 40: do something creative

I’m a big fan of creativity, and I am often sad when I hear people say “I’m just not creative.”  Anyone can be creative and it has huge health benefits, increasing resilience and reducing stress for example.  We don’t need to be the next Picasso or have the genius of Mozart to be creative. Small actions every day count. This short video from Happier.com explains how and why you should get creative:

 

The website Happify have created a great Infographic on the science of creativity which you can find here.  It will give you further inspiration on how to get your creative mojo working.  One of my favourite books on creativity is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – it’s a 12 step recovery programme for people who have lost their creativity.  I learn something new every time I read it and I would recommend working with Julia in person if you get the opportunity.  Julia is coming to London later… Read the rest...

Happiness Experiment No 39: Write a letter to your future self

One of the positive psychology interventions we learned about on my MAPP course was the idea of the best possible self (BPS). The theory is that you write a letter to a future self imagining that everything has gone according to plan and your life has worked out exactly as you would have wished.  Of course, life doesn’t always go according to plan, but research has shown that setting future goals increases well-being and optimism.  A Canadian schoolteacher, featured in the short video below, asked his pupils to write a letter to a future self 20 years from now, he then posted the letters to his former pupils 20 years later.  20 years is probably too long a time span to plan for what you might be doing but the results are still interesting.  Try writing a letter to a future self one year or 5 years from now and see what happens. You are much more likely to have realised your dreams if you write them down.  I recently found an old journal where I had… Read the rest...

Happiness Experiment No 38: ask for what you need

Asking for what we need may seem on the surface like an easy thing to do but many of us struggle to be honest about what we really need. Brene Brown author of the wonderful book The Gifts of Imperfection, has written about how asking for help can make us feel scared and vulnerable as the person we are asking may say no or may judge us for asking. This moving TED talk by Amanda Palmer about the art of asking shows us that asking for what we need is an skill we can practice. The more we ask for help the easier it becomes, the less vulnerable we feel and the easier it is to make connections.  This is why Happiness Experiment no 38 is to ask for what you need. Give it a try and see what happens.

TED talk by Amanda Palmer: The Art of Asking

 

Posted by Shona Lockhart on 27th April 2015

Happiness Experiment No 37: make a difference

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Mahtma Gandhi

Most people would agree that changing the world for the better would be a good thing to do but where should you start?  Ending world poverty, creating world peace, ending discrimination, saving the environment they are all important goals but what difference can I make? Stephen Covey, the famous author of The 7 Habits of Effective People argued that “.. one person can be a change catalyst, a ‘transformer’ in any situation, any organization.  Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf.”  Making a difference can start with one person and that one person can become a small group. Each of those small groups had one person who inspired them.  As Margaret Mead said:

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of people to change the world. In fact, it is the only way it ever has.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated that: “The purpose of life is not to be happy.… Read the rest...