July 28, 2017

August Happiness Challenge

Sometimes it's hard to be happy. Life can suck sometimes and it's difficult to keep feeling good. While I'm a fairly hopeful person, there are plenty of days I end up in dark places.

This challenge is not about being chipper and denying hardship. It's about recognizing we can take actions to improve our happiness. In The Happiness Equation, Neil Pasricha explains how simple tasks can drastically affect our happiness. (FYI, this is not a sponsored post, I'm sharing this book simply because I love it and it helped me)

Neil gives seven steps at the beginning of his book to help jump start your happiness. For the August Challenge, I'm breaking these seven steps down weekly. You may join me by doing the weekly tasks; or choose the steps that interest you and focus on them. I'll be sharing my thoughts along the way and would love to hear how you're doing as well!

Here is the breakdown:

Week 1:
  • Three Walks: Simple as it sounds, take three different thirty minute walks throughout the week. It improves happiness and has even been shown to improve recovery of clinical depression.
Week 2:
  • The 20-Minute Replay: Write for twenty minutes about a positive experience you had. "It improves happiness because you relive the experience as you're writing it and then relieve it every time you read it."
Week 3:
  • Random Acts of Kindness: Do one random act of kindness each day. Buy someone a coffee, send unexpected flowers, organize a shelf or room. Professor Martin Seligman says that "we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested."
  • A Complete Unplug: "The richest, happiest and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal," say Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in the Power of the Full Engagement. Turn off your phone after dinner, don't use the internet on vacation; these types of things help us renew our mind and connect in new ways.
Week 4:
  • Hit Flow: Get in the groove. Be in the zone. Find your flow. However you characterize it, when you're completely absorbed with that you're doing, it means you're being challenged and demonstrating skill at the same time.
  • 2-Minute Meditations: Studies report that meditation can "permanently rewire" your brain to raise levels of happiness.
Week 5:
  • Five Gratitudes: If you can be happy with simple things, then it will be simple to be happy. Find a book or a journal, or start a website, and write down three to five things you're grateful for from the past week.
I may attempt to do all of these each week but I've broken them down weekly to keep expectations low in case August gets too crazy (which is highly likely).

Which steps of the challenge sound most intriguing to you?

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