Robert Waldinger is the fourth leader in 75 years of the "Happiness" Study at Harvard. The team has been following people from their youth and throughout their lives to find out what makes people happy. The answer that they found? Good relationships. Compared to being isolated, being surrounded by people and involved in social activities make people happy regardless of how much money they have. It is also intriguing that if you feel happy at age 50, statistically, you have a higher chance of living longer than those who don't.
Shawn Achor and Daniel Shiegel also mention that good relationships make people happy. Daniel Shiegel's Interpersonal Neurology explains how the brain, mind, and relationships connect. According to his study, when you spend $20 dollars for someone else rather than for yourself, your brain activates more. The positive and physiological energy flows from one person to another and back during a positive relationship. Shawn Achor gives an example of the Happiness Advantage. While most people complain about their physical pain, happy people experience less pain because of their self-regulation. Of course, happy people are not happy about their pain, but they don't focus on the negatives. They train their brain to be positive and happy. As a result, they recognize only the present moment of the pain, and do not focus on anxiousness, nervousness, or agony from the pain. Emotional pain is, yes, painful.
Shawn Achor suggests 5 things you can do to train your brain to be more positive: 1. List 3 gratitude a day 2. Exercise 3. Journal 4. Mindfulness Practice (Meditation) 5. Random Acts of Kindness. I have done these five things for the past year. Did anyone notice if I was more positive than I was in previous years? I don't know. But did I recognize it myself? Let me tell you this. I feel and am physically healthier than last year. I had less episodes of chronic stomach and back pain last year. I was able to stop doing things when I noticed I was too upset. I was able to create space between extreme emotions and my actions so that I could later make better decisions. Those may not be too significant, but I celebrated because they were very positive in my life. So starting off in 2017, I continue exercising these 5 things to grow compassion in myself, deepen relationships, and extend appreciation in my daily life.
Happy New Year and Every Day to you, too!