"What are some Happiness tips?" This is one of the number 1 questions I get on a regular basis, whether at my workshops or from my clients. So I decided to include some of my happiness tips here WITH a caveat: they have worked for me, they may or may not work for you; create your own though, you know? May these inspire you to create not just happiness tips, but happiness in your life on a daily basis.
Oh also since we remember things in 3s, each tip combines 3 words.
1. COMPARE + DESPAIR
We have all been there: Compare and despair land. Well, social media helps us get there faster. We all have that one friend who travels all the time, has a seemingly perfect life, never has to work, yada yada. When I ran in my first 100m dash as an elementary student, my mom gave me some of the best race advice and life advice I could have asked for: "When you run, Kyla, don't look at the other kids. Just look straight. You'll run faster that way." Boy, did I run. My pigtails were flying behind me, and that was the first race I ever won! Now that I am an avid researcher on happiness, what I have found out from neuroscience research is that when we compare ourselves to others, (because there is no one out there quite like our unique awesome selves!) we actually perform worse than if we were to compare ourselves WITH ourselves. Whoa.
2. DO NOT LABEL
Right before I was due to leave Japan after having lived there for 3 years, at a night club in Roppongi, I had my handbag stolen. I will spare you the details of all the drama that ensued. However, one curious thing that happened at the police station when I reported it went something like this:
Me: My handbag was stolen tonight.
Police Officer: Ok, what brand was your handbag? Like Louis Vuitton? Prada?
Me: No brand.
Police Officer: What?
Me: There was no brand. My mom bought it in an alleyway in Hong Kong, I think.
Police Officer: Wait, so what brand?
And so it goes in life, we have this obsession with labeling things: tall, short, ugly, beautiful, black, white, sad, happy, and the list goes on. With situations that come up in life, we tell ourselves, this is terrible or this is depressing. What if we just accepted it for what it was neutrally, and called it a day?
3. AVOIDANCE | SURVIVAL | GROWTH
This I learned recently in my Happiness course online: in every situation we face, we can choose these three ways to face it: avoidance, survival or growth. Most of us usually spend our time in the AVOIDANCE zone. You know, when you decide to go shopping or binge watch that Netflix show instead of addressing what's really going on? (No judgments. I got wayyyy into Narcos.) Then there's the SURVIVAL zone where you're kind of just treading water. The zone to strive for is GROWTH. How do you GROW in every situation you face and help not just yourself GROW but as many people around you as possible?
4. INHALE + EXHALE
So breathing is FREE. We all know about meditation and mindful breathing. There are numerous benefits of both: increased attention span, reduces stress, helps to control anxiety, and the list goes on. I had always imagined that I had to live in some remote village, sit cross-legged in that village and meditate for hours for any of this to even come to pass. Turns out, just 10 minutes of meditation (anywhere) can do the trick. There is a way to breathe properly, I learned at the World Happiness Summit in March this year. Imagine there is an elevator going from the bottom of your abdomen to the top of your head, breathe through your nostrils (not your mouth), and repeat as often as possible!
5. SHIFT YOUR FRAME
"My boss is an asshole, my boss is an asshole, my boss is an asshole..." I often hear clients repeat the same thing over and over again. I hear myself in them. I get it. One of the tools from the Science of Happiness is called Frame Shifting, where you start looking at your challenge/issue from a different angle/perspective. So for example, rather than focusing on "my boss is an asshole" consider "why is this coming up for me and what can I do about it?" Try zooming out of the challenge/issue and seeing the bigger picture as much as possible. It will help you move from the WHAT of the challenge/issue to the WHY.
Three new words for you here. Hygge is the Danish word for "coziness." Did you know that Danish people use more candles per capita than any other nation? It is this obsession with hygge. Lagom is the Swedish word for "balance" literally means "just the right amount" in all things: work-life balance, health, gender (they are always in the top 5 for gender equality in the world), and they even created something called "plogging" (jogging + plucking) where you jog and pick up trash as you go (!). Sohwakhaeng in Korean means "small but certain happiness." In a recent movie called "Little Forest" a girl moves out to a more rural town in Korea, grows her own veggies, and starts enjoying the "small but certain happiness" in life. So why 3 new vocab words? Well, it turns out that when we learn new words we actually sharpen our mind, boost brain power, enhance decision-making and much more! You're welcome!
7. DON'T BELIEVE THOUGHTS
You know that famous expression, "You are what you eat"? Here's another one for you: "You are what you think." Did you know that the average human has 60,000 thoughts per day? And of those thoughts 80% are negative and 95% of those negative thoughts repeat? Yeah, that's why whenever you're in a situation, you believe the worst will come true. As much as we would like to believe that we have evolved with our ever-changing society fueled by the latest tech gadgets and gizmos, we are actually just hunters and gatherers in brain: if there is a lion, we run. If there is no food, we hunt somewhere else. Nowadays we are primed for lions, but not the dull daily stress of that nagging boss, or that toxic co-worker, so the stress just stays with us.
8. JUST DO IT!
I realize this slogan from Nike is more controversial these days than ever thanks to Colin Kaepernick. Whatever the case, one way out of #7 is to literally get out of your head and JUST DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING. At the end of my workshops, we come up with H.A.P.s (Happiness Action Plans)--incidentally, the first 3 letters of the word HAPPY! Thank you for indulging the inner word nerd in me. But in all seriousness, what's that one thing that you have been meaning to do? That one thing that you have been meaning to start? You've got this!
9. YOU ARE ENOUGH
You may recall a blog post I wrote about these three words that pulled me out of the depths of my depression and keep me from going back there. Everyone needs a mantra, daily affirmations, what have you. These three words sit right in front of me in my home office as a reminder that I am enough, that I was brain washed into thinking I wasn't enough by society, by family, by everyone, and most importantly my thoughts kept those thoughts swirling in my head for decades. What's your mantra?
10. SUCCESS -> HAPPINESS?
So in life we strive, and strive, and strive until we get things like a promotion, a car, a raise, whatever. Sometimes at the expense of our own mental/physical health. Do you ever play the "I'll be happy WHEN" game? I'll be happy when... I get the above-mentioned things? Well, don't. What we know from research is that contrary to popular belief and what we are told, the equation looks more like this: HAPPINESS -> SUCCESS. What are you waiting for? Go get your HAPPINESS on!