How to be Happy: 4 Tips from Positive Psychology Researchers
TODAY show, Michelle Gielan + Shawn Achor
August 27, 2018
It’s the time of year when the craziness starts back up again — with renewed intensity. Back to school, new projects at work and an inbox that went from relatively quiet to overflowing. As a working mother of two, the stress and craziness has made the bliss I felt while on vacation this summer seem like a distant memory.
The real problem is that during hectic times, we often do the exact opposite of what we should do to be successful. We hunker down. Start cranking through the to-do list. Take everything seriously. Drag our kids around Target to get all their supplies.
And we push off plans with friends until “things calm down.” If we work hard now, then we can be happy later.
Our research shows that’s the wrong approach. If we’re striving for success, both for ourselves and our kids, focusing on happiness in the midst of the chaos is significantly more fruitful than merely working towards accomplishing the next goal.
My husband and fellow researcher Shawn Achor and I have isolated a number of small happiness habits that boost learning and performance — and can make us better at everything we do.
Studies have shown cultivating a more positive, optimistic mindset can increase productivity by 31 percent, chances of promotion by 40 percent and decrease the negative effects of stress by 23 percent. And this is just a snippet of an overwhelming body of research that shows focusing on fostering gratitude, being solution-focused when faced with a problem and staying meaningfully connected to the people around us pays dividends. (Shawn has a fantastic, hilarious TED talk on the subject.)
As married happiness researchers we do gratitudes together and with our son before bed. My husband proposed to me by listing three things he was grateful for about our relationship.
Here are four of the top researched habits we’ve found to be effective at creating happiness and optimism and making it contagious for those around you. Try doing one of these habits for 21 days — they take just minutes.