Happiness sometimes requires making changes

Happiness sometimes requires making changes

From The Happiness Institute's free eNewsletter that goes out each and every Monday morning come these two articles…

"Switch" (by Chip & Dan Heath) – a book review

Let me start by saying, quite simply, that this is a great book! Great, that is, if (like me) you're fascinated by and love reading about people and human behaviour and behaviour change etc.

Because if you're interested in working out what makes people tick (as I am) then this is an absolute cracker (which is a technical term for those of you without psychology degrees which means really, really good!).

Anyway, brothers Chip and Dan Heath are masters of story telling and case studies. That is, although they quote some fascinating psychological and socialogical research they flesh this out and make it real and bring it to life by citing, exceptionally well, real stories of real people and real communities and organisations.

In short, Switch is about the challenges of making real and lasting changes in life – as an individual, business or community. At the same time, however, Switch is about making simple the strategies that can help with this and the Heath's break it all down to 3 core components:

  1. Use the power of logic and rational thinking – by searching for what's worked well, writing specific instructions to ensure others can have similar success, and clarifying a specific and positive outcome

  2. Use the power of emotions and feeling – by finding something within the facts that's inspiring and motivating, making change as easy as possible, and enhancing the confidence and self-efficacy of those trying to change

  3. Use the power of the context – by shaping the environment, building helpful and constructive habits, and enlisting the support of others

As someone who likes to read "physically" I marked almost every single page in this great publication. As noted above, it might not be for everybody but for those of you who like reading popular psychological non-fiction then this is one of the most accessible AND useful books I've read for quite a while!

Practical Tips for Effective Behaviour Change

Most people know what they “should” do to live a healthy and happy life. To be fitter and healthier, for example, everyone knows they should eat less fat/sugar/salt, eat more fruit and vegetables, and exercise more. The reality is it’s not rocket science. But why, then, do so few people do these things well?

The answer is because so few people have an effective system in place. If you want to develop healthier habits try these simple, but powerful strategies.

  1. Set SMART – ER goals. SMART stands for specific; measurable; achievable; relevant andtimed. In addition, it’s important to “stretch” yourself and also toevaluate and review your progress regularly.

  2. Have “happy hour” every day. Do something fun, pleasurable, enjoyable, satisfying and/or stimulating every day. And preferably, make it a routine.

  3. Focus on the good. Remind yourself of the benefits of taking effective action and of engaging in activities that will enhance your health and happiness (especially if they might not be realised in the short term).

  4. Love yourself for being SMART. Reward yourself for making positive changes, for trying to engage in healthy and productive activities, or simply just for trying. Doing so will significantly increase your chances of continuing helpful habits in the long term.

  5. Make it fun with others. Find a “buddy” with whom to exercise, challenge negativethoughts, engage in good deeds or whatever. Most activities aremore enjoyable with a supportive friend and if they’re more enjoyable you’ll find you’re more likely to keep them up.

This is obviously a very simple overview of behaviour change so if you think you’d benefit from a more detailed explanation of these principles, consider Dr. Sharp’s “The Happiness Handbook” as well as The Happiness Institute’s series of happiness workbooks.