We are always looking for ways that we can give our kids (and us too if possible) an edge and this week we stumbled across something that surprised us; the Happiness Advantage.
We’ll get to that in a sec… first some rather interesting stats for us adults and our future adults. Did you know that:
Only 25% of job success is predicted by IQ?
75% of job success is predicted by your level of OPTIMISM, social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat?
Being in a happy ‘state’ (as opposed to neutral, negative or stressed) makes you 31% more PRODUCTIVE?
Naturally, this got our attention, so what’s it all about?
the happiness advantage
We’ve been inspired this week by the brilliant and extremely funny Ted talk of Shawn Achor (below) in which he discusses the advantages of being happy. One of the many interesting points he makes (beyond the stats above) is that as a society we appear to have the whole happiness ‘thing’ the wrong way round. The equation we have created for happiness is:
Work hard(er) = Success = Happiness.
He says that the problem with ‘pushing happiness to the opposite side of success’ is that your brain never gets there. So you never allow yourself to experience happy because once you achieve something, you automatically move on to the next thing. Sound familiar?
So why is that a problem?
what are we doing to our kids?
It’s a problem because whatever your personal beliefs, you only get one chance in this life at being you, so living in a way that’s designed to make us unhappy seems a bit nuts. Not only that, we are teaching our kids to fall into exactly the same trap that we have.
Notwithstanding the obvious upside (being happier), Achor’s research also tells us that if we reverse the equation and put happiness FIRST, we actually significantly INCREASE our chances of getting the success we wanted in the first place. Clever stuff.
So, what to do?
the happiness challenge
Why not challenge ourselves to see if we can be happier?
Below we list 7 ways that you can bring more happiness into your family life.
Each exercise will take less than 10 minutes to complete and the challenge is to do ONE thing every single day for the next 7 days.
You can do the same thing each day, or a different thing, or mix it up however you want to, just make sure that you do ONE thing each day.
Top Tip: tell the kids what you are doing.
Watch the video together and then tell them about this experiment. Let them choose the activities, get them involved. This has many benefits but the main one we’ve found is that they won’t let you off the hook!!!
So, we will be doing it with our little treasures too, and we’ll report back next week.
1. express gratitude
Being grateful for what you have is one of the secrets to a happy and fulfilled life, if you have any doubts, watch this.
We’ve tried a couple of things from going round the breakfast table and saying 3 things we are grateful for and why we are grateful for them(don’t forget this bit), to spending 3 minutes each morning just quietly thinking about the things that we are grateful for, no matter how small and insignificant- a tip we picked up from Tony Robbins.
So whichever you choose, be grateful, it can be big or small, a person or a thing, say it out loud or in your head, it doesn’t matter- just doing it counts.
One of the activities that Achor recommends is to ‘journal’- the act of writing down one positive experience that happened to you in the last 24 hours. This allows you to relive the experience, try it for a week to see what difference it makes. Remember to write down WHY it was a positive experience.
3. a 10 minute meditation
I like doing this before I start work, I find that it clears my brain of the millions of seemingly useless thoughts running through it at any one time and for this I love Headspace.
We’ve listened to meditations with the kids before and they loved it too.
Headspace has 10-minute meditations that are easy and fun to do for adults and kids.
4. random acts of kindness
Achor suggests sending an email 1st thing, praising or thanking someone in your support network- he’s done this with many companies he works with and the effects have been dramatic.
So your kids could send one to family or friends, I’m sure there’s an Auntie, Uncle or a Grandparent who’d love to be on the receiving end of such an email. Or better yet, do something for someone, is there some little thing you can do to make an impact in someone’s life?
5. find meaning in the hard times
This is quite a powerful thing to do and it’s an idea we got from the fantastic bakadesuyo blog (well worth a visit).
The idea is to go back to an event or situation in your life that was unpleasant, difficult, or upsetting. With the benefit of time and hindsight, what was no doubt unpleasant or awful then, has, in fact, yielded some unexpected benefits today, you maybe just haven’t realised it.
An example might be, falling out with a friend- perhaps you patched up and are closer now, or you realised that they weren’t a good friend and this gave you a chance to see that, or the fallout allowed you to meet some other friends.
You get the picture.
Find something that wasn’t great and re-write your personal history to look for the good (however small) that happened.
Exercise makes you happy. It helps you to stimulate Dopamine and Serotonin, neurotransmitters that improve your mood.
If you’ve not got the time for a family game of football, then why not try a 7-minute workout instead?
We’ve had great fun doing these workouts as a family in the past… time for another go I think.
7. smile more
Want to be happy? Smile more.
Try it, it works. It’s kind of a fake it until you make it thing.
If that feels odd, why not spend 10 minutes each morning watching something funny? There are loads of great comedy clips on Youtube… as the old saying goes ‘laughter is the best medicine’.
That’s it for this week, we hope that you have a
great happy weekend.
Dominic and Lindsay
30 Apr 2017 - experiment