The Science Behind Happiness
As defined by Harvard University, positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field, which was pioneered by Dr. Martin Seligman, uses the scientific method to evaluate why people are happy.
While psychology has traditionally concerned itself with what ails the human mind, including anxiety, depression, neurosis, obsessions, paranoia, and delusions, Dr. Seligman and other pioneers in positive psychology asked the following question: “What are the enabling conditions that make human beings flourish?”
In his Ted Talk, Shawn Achor lists proven ways to increase and spread happiness. By doing one of the following daily for 21 days, we teach our brains to be happy with what we have in the present rather than tying our happiness to future goals:
- Gratitude: write down three things each day that bring you gratitude. This trains your brain to look for the positive throughout your day.
- Journaling positive experiences: Taking the time to write down a positive piece of your day allows your brain to re-live the experience.
- Exercise: Teaches our brain that our behavior matters.
- Meditation: Allows our brains to focus on one task instead of multitasking the way our fast-paced culture demands.
- Random acts of kindness: Creates ripples of positivity by spreading happiness to others.
Incorporate the actions listed above into your daily routine and watch how your perspective shifts. To delve deeper into the world of happiness and positive psychology, we recommend these books:
- Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment - Tal Ben-Sharar
- Flourish - Martin Seligman
- The Happiness Advantage - Shawn Achor