Some tips from Dr M Gaffney
Begin today and focus on smiling more, maybe leave post it’s at the desk to remind you. Dr Maureen Gaffney says we need to take happiness seriously. If you smile more, you will be happier and make others happier also. Nothing to lose and probably a lot to gain.
Gratitude – count your blessings
This is so simple we tend to forget. Take a moment to think about all that you are grateful for. Then do it again tomorrow and you will notices that the more you do it, the more things you come up with. Counting our blessings really makes us happier, study after study shows that our happiness levels go up every single time. Keep a little notebook by the bed and take a few minutes to jot down once a week or once a day!
Tell people what they are doing right, not what they have done wrong!
Using the gratitude concept with the people in your life, take time to tell them what you like or love about them. You can use the gratitude journal for this too. It really works if there is someone you find challenging in your life, like a moody teenager or an unresponsive spouse. According to Dr Gottman, there is a precise ratio for ‘flourising relationships’ and it is 5:1. That means you need to have 5 positives for every one negative comment or interaction. Thank them for every little thing, the cup of coffee, the dishwasher unloaded, the small kindness, etc. Al behaviour reinforces, so whatever you focus on increases. The more you tell someone what they have done right or well, the more they do as they like being noticied in a positive way or being affirmed and they respond even more positively. This may mean you have to ignore the more negative behaviour in the short term however, easier said than done!
Taking a few minutes each day (I use Headspace’s website where they have a free Take 10 breathing meditation). Afterwards, I feel renewed and relaxed, grounded and solid. This means I am less reactive and more proactive in my responses. Do you know that meditation changes the structure of the brain over a few weeks? Meditation makes you less likely to feel agitated or anxious or irritable or depressed. Meditation makes you happier – it is as simple as that.
Giving makes you happier than receiving
The scientific evidence is that spending on others makes us happiest. The more money we have, the law of diminishing returns sets in. Ironically, at the height on the boom, people in Ireland were very happy, yet surveys done mid recession showed their happiness had not decreased in line with the economy and many reported they were ‘grand’. Interestingly, it is how we respond that really matters and less what happens to us.
I love this equation! E stands for Event and it may be something we have no control over like the recession or a disappointment. We can spend our lives in blame mode blaming the government, the economy for our O (Outcomes) which will not get us very far. The R stands for RESPONSE; it is all we have control over, yet when we change how we respond to someone or something, it creates a shift and when we act differently, we may experience a different outcome.