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...
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 talk… Read the rest...
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...
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...
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 Brownauthor 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.
Do you believe you can have it all and do it all? I know I did until I read about Greg McKeown’s theory of essentialism. So what is essentialism? Basically it is about facing tough decisions about what really matters to you and focusing on the few things that really count. Essentialism is about getting really clear about what you are willing to say yes to and what you willing to say no to. Greg McKeown describes this theory as the disciplined pursuit of less but better. If you are in the habit of spreading yourself too thinly Happiness Experiment No 35 of learning to become an essentialist could lead to a liberating approach to what matters in your life. Give it a try and let me know how you get on.
Greg McKeown: Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Saying thank you is such as simple thing to do but how often do we just take people for granted and forget to acknowledge all the little things that others do for us that make our lives better. We may often feel grateful to others but we can easily forget to express our gratitude, leaving others feeling under appreciated. Watch this short TED talk and be inspired to say thank you to someone – it will make a huge difference to their day and will probably make a big difference to your day too. Happiness Experiment no 34 is really simple but really powerful – just remember to say thank you.
TED Talk by Laura Trice: The power of saying thank you
“The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination, and the energy to get started.” Norman Cousins
A very interesting theory I have discovered in the science of positive psychology is hope theory. C.R. Snyder spent many years researching the theory of hope and its benefits to well-being. Hope is not just wishful thinking or optimisim in the way we say “I hope I will win the lottery.” Hope is a belief that we can change the future for the better, or reach our desired goals. Hope keeps us moving forward when the going gets tough, and helps us to “get back on the horse” when we fall off. According to Snyder’s theory, hopeful thinking is made up of 3 key elements:
Goals – thinking in a goal-oriented way.
Pathways – finding different ways to achieve your goals.
Today’s Happiness Experiment is a timely Valentine’s Day reminder to remember the first time you met the person you love most. What were the characteristics that attracted you to them? What would your life be like if you hadn’t met this person? How have they contributed to your happiness?
“Do what you did in the beginning of a relationship and there won’t be an end” Tony Robbins
Matt Cardle sings First Time Ever I Saw Your Face for X Factor judges
“I am just going outside and may be some time.” Lawrence Oates
I recently declared that I was embarking on a 100 day challenge to photograph something every day which made me happy. I did not envisage that this challenge would also coincide with The Happiness Experiment blog not working for a month due to technical issues making it impossible for me to write posts.
Meanwhile I have been photographing and posting my #100happydays photographs on social media during my month of blog silence and it has been a really positive experience so far. It’s a great way to appreciate the things I am grateful for and to make sure to savour experiences. These are both positive psychology practices proven to enhance wellbeing. I have also made a conscious effort to incorporate at least one thing that makes me happy in my life every day. Some days there have been numerous pictures I could have taken and other days I have struggled to find … Read the rest...