He looked familiar but I couldn’t place him…
We had been chatting for a while and my friend Alan had started the conversation.
Then it hit me…
The guy we were hanging with was famed educator, Shawn Achor.
My life is very strange…
I have been a fan of Shawn’s work for a long time but out of context all I knew was that he seemed like a nice guy and we were having a shockingly detailed conversation about the places where the four noble truths of traditional Buddhism overlap with some of Christ’s teachings.
You know…. just a little light chit chat.
Shawn is famous for his work in positive psychology and is a global game changer in the area of happiness. With over nine million views on his TED Talk and 12 years at Harvard University, he knows a thing or two about a thing or two but his primary obsessions as a researcher / speaker are happiness and success.
His research has resulted in these realizations:
Success does not lead to happiness.
Happiness leads to success and often redefines it.
Happiness is a choice.
Engaging in five specific daily activities will increase your experience of happiness.
I had heard about his research and thought that it sounded interesting but like a lot of things that sound good or seem too easy I let it go.
I let it go until hanging out with him and pressing him a little.
It became very clear that Shawn walks his talk, believes his research and that means a lot to me.
He says if you will do these five steps for 21 days, you will begin to see a lasting shift in your mindset towards more positivity.
I have been playing around with his happiness practice but as of today I am committing to it for thirty days.
Will you join me?
The five daily activities
1) Bring gratitude to mind: Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day
2) Journal: About a positive experience you’ve had recently for two minutes once a day
3) Exercise: Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity
4) Meditate: Watch your breath go in and out for two minutes a day. I add to this practice a listening prayer. Sitting in silence with an open heart to what Christ wants for me in that moment. There are so many approaches to meditation. For Christians you may choose a scripture or a listening prayer. For others of you, you may just sit quietly. I do fifteen to twenty minutes.
5) Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness. This can be as simple as sending an encouraging email or as big as paying for a stranger’s groceries. The key here is for it to be conscious. Don’t look over your day trying to see if something fits the bill. Be intentional and thoughtful about it.
If you are reading this and you have been going through an extended season of unhappiness, perhaps asking yourself if it will ever pass, you have a choice.
The inner critic does not have to win this one.
The voice that says “it’s too easy”, “he doesn’t know about MY particular situation” or “I don’t know what to do but I do know that this won’t work”. You have a choice right now to engage these five daily habits as an experiment and see what happens.
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