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How to be happier in 2019

December 13, 2018

Advice on happiness, gratitude and optimism

Mary Kay Clarke – Program Manager, Behavioral Health

There is a wonderful Ted Talk by Shawn Achor that I watched back in 2012 that changed my life called, “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” Shawn has studied the science of happiness and human potential. He discussed a study he performed at Harvard and identified five small actions we can take every day to retrain our brains to scan for the positive, which promotes happiness, gratitude and optimism.

He discussed how our brains perform better when we are in a positive mindset. “Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed,” he says. Dopamine floods your brain when you are positive, which makes you happier and turns on the learning centers of your brain. How can we train our brains to be positive? His study showed that we can retrain our brains in just 21 days by doing five small exercises.

  1. List three things you are grateful for. This trains the brain to scan for the positives first rather than the negatives. Get specific.
  2. Journal one positive thing that happened to you in the last 24 hours, so that you relive it.“I was carrying a lot of bags and someone held the door open for me.”
  3. Did you get 10 minutes of exercise? This teaches your brain that your behavior matters. Try to walk around the block one time daily.
  4. Did you have two minutes of mindful meditation? It teaches the brain to quiet down and focus.
  5. Did you do one intentional act of kindness in the past 24 hours? Did you do something kind for someone else in a deliberate, conscious way? Consider shoveling your elderly neighbor’s driveway, for example.

Doing these exercises empowers us all to be happier, more optimistic and grateful for all that we have. NCH wishes you love, laughter, positive thoughts and strength this holiday season and throughout 2019.

Learn more about Behavioral Health Services at NCH. Call 847-HEALING to schedule an appointment.