Simple Daily Practices for a Happier Life
Throughout the past decade, success researchers and positive psychologists have sketched out in broad strokes the big picture of our elemental yearning for happiness. According to Martin Seligman, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, inner happiness derives from four basic elements: positive emotion, relationships, meaning in life and accomplishment. What we want to know now is how to instill happiness into daily practices.
In her latest book, Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits Of Our Everyday Lives, happiness expert Gretchen Rubin fleshes out the needed details. She maintains that the shift into a happier way of being can be as simple as changing our habits, which she terms the invisible architecture of daily life. Rubin found, “We repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence and our future. If we change our habits, we change our lives.”
We can start small in sometimes surprising ways that encourage personal, family, workplace and community well-being.
Israeli-born Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., a former Harvard lecturer and author of the bestselling Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, had 854 students enroll in one of his pioneering classes on happiness in 2006, the highest enrollment for any class at the time. “Students explored ways to apply these ideas to their life experiences and communities,” he says. Today, he lectures and consults worldwide on the science of happiness, or “optimal being and functioning”.
Ben-Shahar suggests we cultivate three personal habits. The first one is to simplify, saying, “We need to turn off our phones, email and other distractions at home, so we can fully be with the people we care about and that care about us. Time affluence—time to enjoy and appreciate—is a predictor of happiness.” The second is to exercise. “We were not meant to be sedentary,” he says. The third is to meditate. “Meditating helps us to develop extreme resilience to negative emotion.”