Happiness…it’s as simple as creating more positive experiences!

Happiness…it’s as simple as creating more positive experiences!

It really doesn't take long to create more happiness…

…in fact according to my friend, Doug Hensch over at MyHappier, it might only take 10 seconds!

Check out this great little story – 

by Doug Hensch 

One night while putting my kids to bed, my normally quiet and self-sufficient 8 year old son asked me to lay down with him for a couple of minutes. I obliged and he promptly put his tiny head on my chest and his little-boy arm around my rib cage. After a couple of minutes of silence, he said with his sweet, innocent voice, "I love you, Dad." Of course, I enjoyed the moment but my thoughts quickly turned to very important things like making lunch for the boys, preparing for meetings with my clients and paying bills. In fact, the moment was lost, or so I thought…

Researchers like Rick Hanson, Barbara Fredrickson and Richard Davidson have been studying the effects of positive emotions for years. Love, hope, joy and gratitude were once the domain of religion and spirituality and thought to be too "soft" for scientific study. In contrast, George Vaillant writes, "Society ignores the emotional brain at its peril, and both science and society need to work to make automobiles and religions safer." In fact, the scientific study of positive emotions has yielded some interesting results:

  • According to Fredrickson, people who average at least three positive emotions for every one negative emotion are more likely to thrive and be resilient in the face of adversity.

  • Hanson's research has led us to understand that self-directed attempts to experience more positive emotions can actually change the structure of our brains.

  • Davidson has proven that positivity can reduce activity in the amygdala (that pesky, walnut-sized part of our brain that can hijack us into thinking the situation is much worse than it actually is) and it contributes to better health and lower mortality rates.

But, it was a talk given by Hanson that forever changed my approach to positivity. Several days after that incredible moment with my son, Hanson spoke at a conference at George Mason University where he lobbied all of us to experience and sustain our positivity. At one point in the lecture, he asked the 300 people in attendance to do the following:

  1. Recall a positive fact/moment in your life and allow it to become an experience

  2. Next, feel the positive emotion for 10, 20 or 30 seconds – feel it in your body and your brain – intensify it

  3. Sense and intend that the positive experience is soaking into your brain and body – registering deeply in your emotional memory

I directed my attention to the moment where my son said, "I love you." I imagined that my brain was a dry sponge and that the love I experienced was soaking into a now drenched sponge and flowing over into the rest of my body. It was easily one of the most powerful, intimate moments that I had ever experienced – all with 300 people at a psychology conference just a couple of feet away from me. I felt like I had unlocked one of the great secrets of life – savoring.

Even on the busiest of days, I pause to experience the joy of reaching a goal, the humor of a friend's joke, the gratitude of life's little pleasures and the satisfaction of running a business that helps people live happier, more resilient lives. Now, please pardon me as I pause to be with my son for about 10 seconds.

Check out MyHappier HERE but most importantly, put into practice the great strategies Doug has outlined above!