Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
If you were told that there are 5 things you could do to increase your happiness, would you do them? Well research is showing that these five things, if done daily, have been proven to increase people's happiness. Would you believe that some of these things only require two minutes per day? Happiness researcher and expert Shawn Acher talks about these five things and how he sees them improve people's feelings of happiness. So without further ado, let's talk about these five activities you can start doing right now.
1. List three things you are grateful for and why. Do this everyday and also try to make it three new things each day. By making the effort to look for more and more things you are thankful for, your brain starts to get better at this task. It becomes a habit throughout the day. As for saying why you are thankful, that is a way of reinforcing the gratitude and also going more deeply into the experience. Acher suggests doing this daily for 90 days.
2. Take two minutes to text, email or tell someone why they are important or special to you. Again, make it a new person each day for as long as you can. Again you are training your brain to look at the positive. The other reason this works so well it that it is increasing and strengthening your social connections. Social connects are the number one predictor of happiness as we age.
3. Concentrate on deep slow breathing for two minutes. It slows you down, increase oxygen flow in your body, slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and brings you back to the present. People who take the time to do this during the day actually find that they are happier and more productive. This is actually a simple way of bringing mindfulness to your daily routine.
4. Look back over the last 24 hours and pick something good that happened. Now visualize that experience, including the feeling you had. When you visualize doing something, it like your brain doesn't know you aren't really doing it. So its like you get the benefits of that positive experience twice and all the benefits of having a positive experience. This is also another way in which you are training your brain to scan for positive events, people, etc. You are strengthening that optimist muscle.
5. Do 15 minutes or cardio activity. Preferably something you enjoy doing. Exercise causes your brain to produce "happy chemicals" which can boost your mood for hours. Also, when you pay attention to doing something positive like exercising, there is a chain reaction and you start paying attention to other things like the food you eat or getting enough sleep. It is a positive self care domino effect that you put into action.
If you can maintain even one of these practices for 90 days, it is likely that it has become a habit and part of your daily routine. Do as many of these as you are able to, on a daily basis and I know you will feel the benefits.
*This is not intended as therapy or a replacement for therapy or medication. These are activities that you can do in addition to any other treatment you may be currently receiving. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, or stuck it's always a good idea to talk to someone. A therapist is a great person to talk to. If you are feeling suicidal, please call an emergency number such as 911 or the access and crisis line (888) 247-2470 to get immediate help.
For more from Acher, check him out on youtube and Ted Talks.
Sara Cole MFT, San Diego therapist, has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. If you would like to find out more about her or her services and how she may be able to help you, check out www.saracolemft.com.
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression and anxiety. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.