New Habit Mindset

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Here’s one thing that you can do easily to increase your happiness in 2019.

So many of our New Year’s resolutions are centered around doing less or stopping an activity, such as

  • Drink less
  • Lose weight
  • Cut down on extraneous spending
  • Reduce screen time

Often we don’t think about what truly brings us joy. For a country that prides itself on freedom, independence, and the pursuit of happiness, a recent study confirms that the US has clearly has lost its way.

In the World Happiness Report, the top ten happiest countries are Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Australia; the US ranks 18th and yet we are the 11th richest country in the world.

What is wrong with this picture? Why aren’t we happier?

Well-being and happiness often require factors such as family support and friendships, living with meaning and purpose in your life, a healthy lifestyle and a spirit of generosity.

Have we gotten too greedy, self-consumed, and me-oriented?

Research has already shown that after a certain threshold, more money and more toys don’t make us happier. While we may still be experiencing a holiday high, our back-to-reality everyday drudgery will hit home soon. True to our fallible nature, we think that more money will make us happier. While it is true that the wealthy are happier than the poor, once we have reached a certain threshold, around $80,000 a year depending on where you live, more money does not correlate to greater happiness.

When our income increases, our spending expands and we overestimate the joy that a new car or larger house will bring. Sure it may make us happier for the short-term, but in the long run, the initial emotional euphoria will dissipate.

If more money doesn’t make you happier, what will according to the research?

Generosity is one of the top key variables that contribute to happiness in the World Happiness Report. A recent white paper on generosity concludes that human beings are wired to help one another whether it’s through time, donations, volunteering or some other act of kindness and empathy.

Generosity can make a huge difference in your happiness and well-being. Click to retweet

Generosity expands your capacity to think beyond yourself and build empathy and compassion toward others, important emotions to increase your happiness. According to Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology and the creator of PERMA principles, happiness can be cultivated with discipline and better habits.

The research on generosity is complex and nuanced. Several different studies note that there are social and geographic differences in giving to charitable organizations. People in the top income quintile in England and Wales were the most likely to give to charitable causes (86 percent), while those in the bottom quintile were least likely to give (65). This contrasted with studies from the US where the very poorest give the highest proportion of their income and then the line flattens with those from middle and higher income brackets.

Regardless of your income, geographic location, cultural or familial upbringing, the research clearly indicates that forming an ongoing habit of generosity not only helps others, but it is also good for you.

Make generosity your top habit to cultivate for 2019.

  1. Donate to your favorite cause every month. Remember that every little bit can help a small organization.
  2. Make it a practice to help someone at work or at home without being asked or without expecting anything in return.
  3. Volunteer your time with an organization or to make a difference in someone’s life.
  4. Be generous with your attention. Take your headphones off your head, pull out your earbuds, lift your head up and away from your phone or computer, really look people in the eyes and listen to what they have to say. In fact, say, “hello” when you pass someone.
  5. Be generous with your kind words. More compliments, more nice comments, and more positive reinforcement.

Here’s a challenge for the next 365 days. Practice one act of generosity a day. Be the change. Make a difference. And you will feel the change in your life.

There are affiliate links below for which I may receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.

Suggested Reading

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

The Generosity Factor by Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy

The Paradox of Generosity by Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson

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What’s your mantra for the holidays?

‘Tis the season for excess, consumption, and materialism.

Advertisers have seduced us all into thinking “more” is better and bargain deals are a must-have.

Do office parties, family gatherings, and neighborhood get-togethers cause you to overeat, overdrink, and overbook your daily life?

In this time of deep religious celebration of light, hope, and miracles, how is it that we veer so off-course feeling exhausted, rushed, and overstuffed.

In an attempt to live the holiday season with greater joy and ease, you may consider adopting a few mantras to hold you firmly grounded and centered during the holiday mayhem.

Four mantras to help you navigate the holiday season:

1.  The Mantra of Savoring

Happiness researchers will tell you that a way to increase joy is to practice savoring.  When you are multitasking, such as looking at your twitter feed while eating, you enjoy your food less. Savor your conversations, food, and time with others.  Really pause, notice, and think to yourself, I am going to savor this moment.  From the book, Happiness, Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth: 

The key component to effective savoring is focused attention. By taking the time and spending the effort to appreciate the positive, people are able to experience more well-being.

 2. The Mantra of Calculated Moderation 

The old adage, “everything in moderation” seems intuitively sound, but a recent study confirms that the concept does not translate well to your daily life.

The extent to which people believed they consumed foods in moderation was unrelated to how much of that food or drink they reported consuming,” the authors wrote. “Furthermore, participants’ ratings of their consumption as moderate for a given food item were unrelated to their definitions of moderate consumption of that item.”

Using data, such as caloric intake or a point system similar to Weight Watchers, is a better way to manage “moderate” consumption. The data won’t lie, but your brain may trick you into what I call “skewed moderation.”

 3. The Mantra of Forgiveness

The holidays and family gatherings can bring up a lot of emotion, tension, anxiety, sadness, shame, and an array of psychological turmoil. What fun! Misinterpretations, grudges, and unmet expectations can lead you down a path of disappointment, anger, and angst.

The science shows that the practice of forgiveness can help you increase feelings of happiness and well-being. Letting go of old emotional baggage takes courage.  Learning to forgive both yourself and others requires a good deal of empathy. How will you practice forgiveness this season?

4.  The Mantra of a Positive No

For those of you who are like me, a people pleaser, it is easy to get caught up in doing too much and then burning out.  Even a simple request or favor can be the last straw that puts you over the edge.  Before that happens, learn to say no or ask for help before you cross the line into overload.

Establish your boundaries for rude, toxic, or passive-aggressive behavior that can surface during family gatherings when old relationship patterns get triggered.  Forgiveness is helpful, but that doesn’t mean you accept or continue to tolerate unwanted or abusive behavior.  Walk away, limit contact, or articulate your boundaries for engagement.

“As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

― William Ury, The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes

The paradox of life is that our human journey requires great hurdles to achieve bigger wins.  Courage requires standing in fear and vulnerability.  A powerful no requires risk and willpower to overcome patterns and bad habits.  Greater happiness requires self-acceptance, forgiveness, savoring the present moment, and empathy.  Not easy tasks for any of us.

As you journey forward through the days ahead, may you find the light, the hope, the blessings, and the joy this holiday season.

Peace be with you.

There are affiliate links in the blog and below for which I may receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.

Suggested Reading

Happiness, Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth  by Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener

The Power of A Positive No by William Ury

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Improve your life and face your biggest challenges with these 5 habits.

Life-threatening illnesses, the death of a loved one, financial/job loss, divorce, tragic accidents, natural disasters, wars, or terror attacks can come out of nowhere and suddenly appear in your life.  These natural disasters or traumatic events on the surface seem to be anything but a blessing.

There is an old Taoist short story that highlights the unpredictability of life and maintaining a detached perspective on our experiences.

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How to improve your health and your heart with Love 2.0

It’s a $19.8 billion dollar holiday.  Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day. The average American consumer spends $137.56  on Valentine’s Day cards, flowers, chocolates, meals, and other presents to woo, wow, or bestow love to that special someone.

With almost 30 days since the commercial hype of this romantic holiday, have you lost that lovin’ feeling?

  • Isn’t love more than just cupids, red hearts, and roses?
  • And what if you don’t have a romantic partner?  

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Stoicism revisited: how ancient wisdom can help you navigate uncertain times.

What do you when you are faced with uncertainty, fear, or stress?  How do you cope with obstacles?  Stoic philosophy could provide you with very useful tools to navigate life’s challenges.

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Fear Of Success

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Learn how the fear of success could be stopping you dead in your tracks.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.

~ Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

Many people freeze when wanting to move forward because they are afraid of failure. But what if we are really paralyzed by the fear of success.

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How to make perfectionism actually work for you.

Are you a perfectionist? Do people call out your perfectionism as a negative trait?

Often when I am striving to excel, persisting with the nitty-gritty to get something “just right,” and suddenly a roadblock or catastrophe occurs sending me off course, the advice I typically get is to:

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What to do when your arguments hit a roadblock.

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with someone who holds an opposing view and that person says something to you that triggers your emotional buttons? Suddenly there is a rise of anger and defensiveness that spreads throughout your body causing you to more vehemently defend your point of view.

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Raise Your Mood with these Proven Steps

Discouraged, apathetic, or disillusioned?  Has our political system left you feeling down?

Here are six habits designed to improve your mood:

1.   Listen to upbeat music like Mozart.

Music has long been a part of our human culture. Research studies show that there is a direct link between listening to music and enhancing your health and your mood.

In a study of 80 patients undergoing urological surgery “half the patients were randomly assigned to wear headphones that played slow movements from Mozart piano sonatas, while the other half wore headphones that did not play music.

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Two important behavior norms for any team

Have you ever worked on a team where several people, or even one person, dominates the group discussion?

Perhaps there are times when you are afraid to articulate an idea or opinion because  “the boss”, parent, or a colleague will challenge you and devalue your idea.

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