Have you ever wondered what you need to do in life to achieve lasting happiness?
Join that board? Earn a higher salary? Buy that new car?
According to Laurie Santos, the Yale Professor responsible for creating the university’s most popular course in its history, none of those things will make you genuinely happy in the long run.
In fact, because of how our brains are wired, we will always be chasing something new to get that happiness high.
And she must be on to something.
The popularity of her undergrad course, Psychology and the Good Life, led to a Coursera course entitled “The Science of Well-Being,” a podcast called “The Happiness Lab” and a presentation to the world’s most powerful at World Economic Forum.
So, if the traditional markers of success, like money, power and status, won’t do the trick, what will?
The “Rewirements” a.k.a. 7 Things You Need to Do to Achieve Lasting Happiness
Santos’ cites scientific studies as evidence that if we practice these seven keys to happiness (Santos calls them “rewirements”) consistently, not only will we be happier, but the habits will ‘rewire’ our brains to recognize what makes us brings us joy.
Get your journals ready!
1. Savour — Slow down and step out of your experience to review and appreciate it while it’s happening.
Why? It can make us remember the good stuff in life, keeps us in-the-moment, and increases gratitude.
2. Be Grateful — Take note of things you are grateful for daily.
Why? The simple act of experiencing gratitude improves mood, relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and strengthens the immune system. Practicing gratitude reminds us that the experiences we have in life are inherently valuable.
3. Be Kind — Commit to doing something nice for someone, be it big (donating to charity) or small (complimenting someone).
Why? It can improve mood and feelings of social connection.
4. Connect with People — Speak to a stranger in the grocery store or reconnect with an old friend.
Why? The act of reaching out can make you happier and cultivate a sense of community and belonging.
5. Exercise — Move your body. Take a walk, do a virtual exercise class, just commit to moving.
Why? Exercise improves mood, decreases depression, and increases brain efficiency.
6. Sleep — Aim for 7–8 hours per night, consistently.
Why? A whole host of reasons including better mood, increased cognitive performance, as well as a decrease in heart disease and other chronic ailments.
7. Meditate — A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Learn to be in the present moment. Experiment with different types of meditation and try for 5–10 minutes per day when you begin.
Why? Improved focus, less stress, and perhaps a calmer approach to conflict. People have reported results within a couple of weeks!
I’ve put some of these “rewirements” to the test in my own life. Not only am I happier, but I’ve also changed how I think about my goals.
Choose even one of the above and try it out; you may be surprised by the results and dare I say, happier.