Building Happiness


Just stop for a second and think about it. We spend our lives creating If-Then statements of when to feel good. “When I get my promotion … I will feel good”. But why?

As long as we structure out lives in a way where happiness is dependent on something we cannot control, then we will experience pain.

Instead of achieving to be happy – to happily achieve

False happiness (Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality)

  • Happiness is found in having things
  • You should get all you can for yourself
  • Security is found in money, power, status and good health
  • You should seek all the pleasure and comfort you can
  • God is irrelevant to everyday life (or you are all there is)
  • Christianity is just one alternative
  • There is no moral absolute
  • You are not responsible for anyone but yourself
  • Life on earth is all there is

In a study, appropriately titled “Very Happy People,” researchers sought out the characteristics of the happiest 10 percent among us. Do they all live in warm climates? Are they all wealthy? Are they all physically fit? Turns out, there was one—and only one—characteristic that distinguished the happiest 10 percent from everybody else: the strength of their social relationships. Researchers found that social bonds weren’t just predictive of overall happiness, but also of eventual career achievement, occupational success, and income. (Shaun Achor)

Moments of Enjoyment

These come from one or more of the 8 conditions (Mihaly Csikszentmihaly)

  Situation 1 Situation 2
I. We confront tasks that we have a chance of completing
2. We can concentrate on what we are doing
3. There are clear goals
4. There is immediate feedback
5. There is a deep and effortless involvement that is all embracing
6. We have a sense of control over our actions
7. We don’t think about ourselves during the activity but think better of ourselves after we have completed it
8. The sense of duration of time is altered


7 Principles for Happiness

From Shaun Achor and the Happiness Advantage

Principle #1:
The Happiness Advantage
When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the centre, and success revolves around it.

Happiness boosters: meditation, looking forward to something, commit conscious acts of kindness, exercise, spend money (but NOT on Stuff), exercise a Signature Strength.

Principle #2:
The Fulcrum & The Lever
Changing your performance by changing your mind-set. Happiness is not about lying to ourselves, or turning a blind eye to the negative, but about adjusting our brain so that we see the ways to rise above our circumstances.

The heart of the challenge is to stop thinking of the world as fixed when reality is, in truth, relative. Use a gratitude journal to notice the good things in life.

Principle #3:
The Tetris Effect
Training your brain to capitalize on possibility. Train your brain to scan the world for the opportunities and ideas that allow our success rate to grow.

The best way to kick-start this is to start making a daily list of the good things in your job, your career, and your life.

Principle #4:
Falling Up
Capitalizing on the downs to build upward momentum. Study after study shows that if we are able to conceive of a failure as an opportunity for growth, we are all the more likely to experience that growth

It’s about using that downward momentum to propel ourselves in the opposite direction.

Principle #5:
The Zorro Circle
Limiting your focus to small, manageable goals can expand your sphere of power. Feeling that we are in control, that we are masters of our own fate at work and at home, is one of the strongest drivers of both well-being and performance.

Happiness and health have less to do with how much control we actually have and more with how much control we think we have.

Principle #6:
The 20-Second Rule
How to turn bad habits into good ones by minimizing barriers to change. Our willpower weakens the more we use it.

The key to creating these habits is ritual, repeated practice, until the actions become ingrained in your brain’s neural chemistry. And the key to daily practice is to put your desired actions as close to the path of least resistance as humanly possible.

Principle #7:
Social Investment
Social support is your single greatest asset
Other resources and articles

Elaine Slater – Times article on how to train your brain to be happy