Like most people, I grew up believing that if I worked hard, then I’d be successful, and then I’d be happy. I spent more than a decade of my career chasing the next goal, earning the next promotion, and convincing my boss I was worthy of the next pay rise. Finally, I realized I had trapped myself on a treadmill of stress, exhaustion, and discontentment. Sound familiar?
So I did what many people do, I changed jobs. I went to work for myself, thinking this was the best course of action. With me in control, what could go wrong? Over the next 10 years, I had dramatic professional “success” but my personal life was in shambles. I finally realized that for “things” to get better, “I” had to get better. Basically, I had it backward.
When you start focused on Happiness and Gratitude,
the rest of your life seems to just fall into place
How can happiness and gratitude produce such results? Scientists have discovered positive emotions — like joy, interest, awe, pride, gratitude, hope, amusement, serenity, inspiration and love — flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, helping us process new information, think more quickly and creatively, see and invent new ways of doing things, and connect better with others at work. When our mindset and mood are positive, we’re smarter, more motivated, and thus, more successful.
How can you learn to be more grateful and naturally happier each day,
no matter what your job description says, or who you’re working for?
“There are five key researched habits we recommend people try practicing to improve their happiness,” explains Michelle Gielan of Good Think Inc.
- Counting Gratitude – Write down three new and unique things you’re grateful for each day. This will help train your brain to scan your environment, always looking for new and useful things.
- Journaling – Each day, spend at least two minutes writing down everything you can remember about the most meaningful moment you’ve had in the last 24 hours. Relive this moment in detail, noting what you saw, heard, and felt. By really savoring this experience, you can double the number of meaningful moments in your day.
- Mindful Activity – Spend 15 minutes each day exercising. Studies suggest this can be the equivalent of taking an anti-depressant.
- Commit A Conscious Act Of Kindness – Reach out to someone new and different in your social circle by taking two minutes each day to praise or thank them by email or phone. This activates your social network and reminds your brain of the support you have around you, especially helpful during stressful periods (like the holidays!)
- Attention Training – Practice taking your hands off your keyboard, and for two minutes, just pay attention to your breathing. This trains your brain to have a laser-like focus on one activity when you return to your work, rather than slipping into a multi-tasking mindset that wears you out and slows you down.
“Try each of these brain training approaches in positivity for at least 21 days to get started, but persist with whatever works best for you to build the neural wiring that will support these behaviors through both good and challenging times,” suggests Michelle. “Have patience; it does take time.”
Gratitude and happiness are the pathways to working smarter, rather than harder. Can being grateful and happy unleash your potential for success? Why not give it a try?