Happiness blog: Make happiness a habit. Are you up for the challenge?

2013-10-14T11:56:00Z 2013-10-16T10:17:38Z Happiness blog: Make happiness a habit. Are you up for the challenge?A Special Blog from Gangplank by Robin Breault, LeadLocal, Brooke McDonald, LeadLocal, Christopher Porter, simpleview Arizona Daily Star

Is it possible to increase your success because you’re happy? Can that happiness and success become habitual? A few of us at Gangplank collaborative workspace asked ourselves these questions several weeks ago when we came across some positively enlightening research by Shawn Achor, author of the "Happiness Advantage".

Although most of us just assume that success leads us to happiness, research has shown the opposite. People who choose to make certain actions a part of their daily lives out-perform their counterparts in productivity, creativity and engagement.

Here’s some evidence: during tax season of 2008, tax managers at KPMG, a national tax advisory firm, were asked to choose one of five daily activities that is known to correlate with positive change. At the end of three weeks, the managers were evaluated on their sense of well-being: how engaged were they, were they depressed, etc.

On nearly every metric, the experimental group scored higher than the control group. Even four months later, the tax managers who integrated positive daily activities into their lives showed a significant increase in their life satisfaction scale, a widely accepted metric that predicts productivity and happiness at work.

We were fascinated by this research, and we wanted to try it for ourselves. So the challenge is on. At Gangplank, we are challenging ourselves to complete some of these same positive daily activities from the KPMG study.

For twenty-nine days, from Oct. 16 – Nov. 13, we here at Gangplank are taking on the Happiness 29-Day Challenge. We challenge you to do the same. The challenge starts with the kickoff of the UA’s Downtown Lecture Series on Happiness.

No, you don't need to stand on your desk to get a new perspective or hug coworkers you don’t really like. We won’t make you eat spinach or Brussels sprouts or even smile.

Here’s what we challenge you to do each and every day for 29 days:

  • Jot down three things you are grateful for. Research says that when youtake time to give thanks and increase your optimism you can increase your productive energy by 31 percent!
  • Write a positive message to someone in your social support network. When you open your inbox each day or jump on Facebook, take a minute to send a quote note of appreciation or encouragement.
  • Add meditation or prayer to your daily routine. Our brains spend most of the day multi-tasking in overdrive. If you take two minutes to quiet your thoughts and breathe deep you can reduce stress, increase energy, and fall asleep faster.
  • Exercise for 10 minutes. It doesn’t need to be a full-on new years resolution to join CrossFit or run a marathon. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Or maybe ride your bike to work instead of driving.
  • Take two minutes to journal the most meaningful experience of your day. Our brains often don’t know the difference between reality and visualization. So if you re-visit the peak of your day and write it down, you can double the effect of that positive experience.

Training your brain to be happy is really quite similar to training your body for a half-marathon. Thanks to our brain’s neuroplasticity, we can literally change our mind. That rut you may find yourself in on Monday mornings may simply be a pattern that you’ve taught your brain to accept. By changing the inputs, you change the output.

At Gangplank we’ve challenged ourselves to “happy” our behavior for the next 29 days. Join us and judge for yourself how your outlook on life changes.

You can share your happiness journey or follow someone else’s by using this hashtag #happiness29 on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Want to know more about Gangplank? Drop by (17 E. Pennington St.) or checkout our website: Gangplankhq.com

Sources:

Achor, Shawn. Positive Intelligence. January 2012. Harvard Business Review. http://hbr.org/2012/01/positive-intelligence/

Achor, Shawn. Achieving Happiness Despite Everyday Challenges. August 27, 2012. Huff Post Healthy Living.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shawn-achor/happiness-tips-research-chronic-illness_b_1798183.html

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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About this blog

"Happiness Tucson" shares research from the social and behavioral sciences on happiness and relates it to Tucson. It is facilitated by the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, one of the largest colleges at the UA with approximately 6,000 majors in 20 different departments including sociology, communication, political science, anthropology, and history — among others.

The social and behavioral sciences are dedicated to understanding people and their connections — with each other, the world around them, and their pasts — and using that knowledge to help make communities healthier and more vibrant.

The UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is on the UA campus in the Douglass Building. Please visit the college's website or find it on Facebook. To make suggestions for topics for this blog or to get more information, email downtownlectures@email.arizona.edu

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