A recent report stated that unhappiness is habitual. Warning signs include pessimism, isolation, not addressing problems, waiting around for things to get better and feeling victimized.
We’ve all succumbed to these afflictions to different degrees on various occasions.
Through my work and my studies, I’ve learned that there are also some habits that are common to happier people. I use the word “happier” intentionally because happiness isn’t a state or a destination. It’s a continual journey towards an increasingly positive mindset.
Habits can be changed and while it’s been commonly said that it takes 21 days to change a habit with daily practice, new studies show that it takes closer to 66 days.
It varies for everyone, and it depends on the habit, but 66 days is about the time it takes for brain circuits to create memory traces and pound out new pathways. We also now know that missing a day here or there when you’re trying to develop a habit doesn’t derail the process.
Here are a few of my favorite habits of happiness. Focus on one habit change at a time for maximum success.
>> Say it like this: Happier people say things like: “I appreciate the way you…” or “You’re really great at…” At everyone’s core is a need to feel valued. When you give that gift to others, you immediately become happier. When you say mahalo as often as possible, gratitude becomes a way of being. List a few things that you are grateful for every day and encourage others to do this.
>> Spend money on others: Happier people spend money on others rather than pursuing materialistic interests. While the holiday rush is on to buy stuff, before you buy an arsenal of gift cards, consider buying experiences that create memories with people you appreciate.
>> Celebrate the good: Holidays aren’t the only cause for celebration. Celebrate promotions, good grades at school or the completion of a difficult task. Taking the time to bring people together in joy rejuvenates the spirit.
>> Encourage positive thinking: There’s a silver lining in every challenge. Your final thought about a difficult situation should be about the good that has come from it. This way you strengthen your resiliency. Happier people know how to bounce back and move on.
>> Seek out happy people: If you want to know how happy someone is, check out the circle of people around them. Happiness spreads through people. Steer clear of pity parties and gossip gatherings. Misery loves company and nothing will zap your energy like a depressing crowd. Make finding happy people a habit.
You probably have a multitude of habits that amplify happiness. When you share your good spirits with others, you’ll continue to grow your own happiness.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com.