Are you on track for genuine happiness and success? Well there are six keys to happiness and success according to Emma Seppala, PHD. She is the science director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. In her recent book The Happiness Track – How To Apply The Science Of Happiness To Accelerate Your Success, she says these six keys will help you achieve true happiness and long term success in this very fast paced, stress filled and hard driving world we live in. Some of them fly in the face of what we’ve been taught or assumed would lead us to success.
1) Live in the moment.
Life can get hectic and crazy sometimes. We are always trying to think two steps ahead of where we currently are. Worrying about what could happen in the future and regretting things we did in the past. By focusing on the here and now and what you are currently trying to accomplish, according to Seppala, you will be more productive, do a better job, and be more charismatic. Constantly focusing on the future makes you anxious. Seppela talks about the “anticipatory joy trap”. We are constantly looking for the next brain high. It’s one of the things that keeps us constantly checking our Facebook app all the time.
We need to stop chasing the future and live more in the present. Being present makes you more productive and happier. You can bring your mind into the present by practicing consciously being present. By consciously giving your full attention to the task at hand you can train your brain to be more attentive. Meditation is another good way to learn to be present. Taking a technology break and taking a walk in nature can also help you live in the moment.
2) Tap into your resilience.
We have learned to equate success with stress. It’s kind of ingrained in our culture but Seppla tells us that science has shown that this constant stress will backfire in the long run. Not all stress is bad though. Short term stress, the flight or fight reflex, has served us well in the past. It’s what can get you out of harm’s way when most needed. But long term stress is a killer. Resilience is your ability to bounce back from the stressful situations you face everyday.
We can tap into our natal resilience through mediation and or breathing exercises. Other ways to boost our resilience are by going for a walk in nature, exercise and keeping fit. Hugging a loved one and being with family and friends can also boost your natural resilience.
3) Manage Your Energy
Instead of engaging in exhaustive thoughts and emotions, learn to mange your energy by remaining calm and centered. There is a cost to be paid for this intensity. It can wear down your immune system. It can lead to constantly worrying and catastrophizing, the act of always thinking of the worst outcomes.
Learning to remain calm is the key to self control and preserving your energy. You can cultivate calmness and restore your mental energy by doing something that makes you feel positive like, listening to music, watching a funny movie or doing a random act of kindness. We can also manage our energy better by detaching from work when you’re not working. Take a break and go out into nature if possible.
4) Do nothing
Doing nothing can be the secret to accessing your creativity. Seppla says “research shows us that there are two main modes of thought on this – intense focus on the present to achieve your current goals and downtime when we can daydream, let our minds wander, and come up with new ideas”. She suggests we need to make time for nonlinear thinking. We can achieve this by making time for stillness and silence. Letting the mind wander and making time for idleness.
5) Be good to yourself
Be careful of the language you use when talking to or about yourself. Being too critical of yourself can hurt your performance and cause you to give up. It can lead to poor decision making and can make you lose touch with what you really want. Believe in effort, not strengths. Failure is success in progress. Strengths do not just happen, they need to be developed.
Being kind to yourself is understanding that you are part of humanity and that everyone makes mistakes. Learn to practice mindfulness – being aware of and validating your thoughts and feelings, yet observe them with perspective and at a distance.
6) Show compassion to others.
Showing compassion or others serves you better than self interest. Compassion increases your status and trustworthiness. Showing compassion for others inspires loyalty and engagement. Compassion for others is also good for your health. Studies have show that is strengthens the immune system and reduces inflammation. It can also lower rates of anxiety and depression by buffering against the bad side effects of stress.
You can strengthen your compassion muscles by paying full attention when others are talking and verbalizing the other person’s point of view.
Resources For You:
- The Happiness Track – How To Apply The Science Of Happiness To Accelerate Your Success
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
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