5 Weird Ways To Increase Your Happiness
5. Remove The Batteries from Your TV Remote
“Habits are like financial capital — forming one today is an investment that will automatically give out returns for years to come.” — Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage
In one section of his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor recounts his struggles to learn to play the guitar. Shawn had tried countless methods to get himself to play the instrument more, from creating goal sheets and schedules to placing his music stand in the middle of his room.
Finally, something worked…
Shawn disabled all the shortcuts for the one thing that distracted him most in life:
Shawn took the batteries out of his TV remote, and placed them about 20 seconds away from the couch, making it a little more difficult to slip into his favorite guilty habit of watching television.
“The less energy it takes to kick-start a positive habit, the more likely that habit will stick.” — Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage
When it comes to habits, every little bit counts. Especially if you stack the odds in your favor.
I believe forming positive habits is essential to our well-being and happiness. We just have to put in a little extra effort to make sure they come to fruition. Nothing helps us to conquer life more than when we are in control of our time, rather than it controlling us.
It doesn’t just apply to remotes and batteries too. Disabling notifications on e-mail, messaging, and apps can help us to focus more and increase productivity, eliminating distractions that could get in the way of forming those healthy positive habits that we know would make our life better if we could just find a way to get around to doing them…
Form happy habits. Get more happiness in return.
“By adding 20 seconds to my day, I gained back three hours.” — Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage
4. Pay Attention To Your Storms
“Pay attention to all your actions, and let go of unnecessary things that weigh you down.” — Alexandra Stoddard, Happiness For Two
This is a little embarrassing to admit but I can get really moody sometimes, especially during certain feminine cycles that occur every month.
Ok I said it. I PMS like crazy.
My husband has deemed it absolutely mandatory that some sort of signal be given to let him know when the storms could be coming…
So a picture goes up on the fridge every month and Jonathan Chew knows that if I’m crying because there’s no more chocolate, it’s not something to really be all that worried about.
But the act of putting the picture onto the fridge helps me to do something as well…
I am far more aware and mindful of my own feelings. I pay more attention to myself and what is really going on.
In her book Happiness For Two, Alexandra Stoddard tells us that,
“Awareness precedes happiness.”
Alexandra Stoddard tells us that life moves fast. Because of this, it’s vitally important to learn to be present, to pay attention, to see what’s really there.
Everyone has been around a restless toddler at some point whose parents claim,
“Oh he just needs a nap…”
And you think to yourself,
“Are you sure?! That child is screaming! He’s screaming so loudly I’m scared a demon may need to be extricated from his soul!”
But then he takes a nap and all is peaceful in the world again and you think to yourself, “wow he really was just tired…”
It’s important to think this way about ourselves too. Sometimes we just need to think of why we are actually feeling something. Is it because we are really feeling that way? Or is it because we are hungry? Sleepy? Or just plain moody?
“Everything we do lovingly can become a form of meditation when we train our mind and heart through paying attention.” — Alexandra Stoddard, Happiness For Two
Let more happiness in. Pay attention.
3. Look at Pictures of Animals and Babies
“Everything looks cute when it’s small.” — Cynthia Rowley
I’ve recently been watching the amazing Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass on writing (I think she may be my spirit animal). She mentioned something really funny as a tip for writing a television pilot.
She said, half-jokingly, that there’s something about putting a baby in a script that always makes the story succeed. Audiences somehow connect with babies. They love them. And thus, they love the show.
I totally get this. Has anyone else seen the new movie Wonder Woman? Sometimes I totally feel like Diana when she is walking through the streets of London and gets distracted, reaches out her arm to a random stranger holding something, and says “oooo a baby!!” and then has to be redirected away by Chris Pine’s character.
And it’s the same with cats.
If my husband wasn’t severely allergic to them, I think every date night I’d plan for us would involve finding some sort of way to play with a bunch of kittens.
For now, I’ll resort to looking at memes on the internet.
All joking aside, there is something more to looking at something we find small and cute.
“When we look at a baby, our brains recognise the features that make us relate to our own young, as outlined in baby schema, and this causes a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
This chemical is also involved when we fall in love, and it is an enjoyable feeling.
Our brains commit that rewarding feeling to memory, letting us know to do it again, and the emotional response triggered by the cuteness also stimulates the motivation to care for the animal.
This reaction is so ingrained in our brains that it can be triggered by other things, such as a cute insect, or even inanimate objects with certain features that trigger our ‘cute’ response.” — Jodie Tyley and Victoria Woollaston, The Science of CUTE
2. Breathe Through Your Heart
At his seminars Tony Robbins often has his attendees do something called breathing through the heart.
It’s a form of meditation and reflection where a person does a few things:
- They physically put a hand to their chest and feel their heart beating.
- They breathe deeply into the heart, through the heart, and feel the power and strength of it.
- They grab moments they’re proud of, moments they’ve been excited by, things that they’re grateful for, moments they want to see in the future and breathe the way they would when they experience these moments again through the heart.
It’s a wonderful calming technique and a great way to practice both mindfulness and gratitude.
“Breath is the key to physical and mental well-being, and if done properly, it can boost energy, relieve pain, and transform our lives.” — Tony Robbins
Our bodies go through stress every day. What we eat, how we sleep, what pressures we encounter all change our body chemistry throughout the day.
But as Tony Robbins says,
“Did you know that 70% of the toxins inside of your body are removed through the lungs? Breath is an essential element to life.”
Give yourself a heart full of happiness by breathing, not just through your nose or mouth, but through your heart as well.
1. Spend Money (on Someone Else)
“The reason money doesn’t make us happy is that we’re spending it on the wrong things; in particular, we’re always spending it on ourselves.” — Michael Norton
When I was little I remember being with my mother in a long line of cars to get our dinner for that night at the nearest McDonalds. When we pulled up to the window to pay, my mother got out some cash (this was the days before fast food chains accepted credit cards) and the worker shook her head and told us to put the money away. She said the car in front of us had actually already taken care of it.
My mother and I looked at each other with shocked smiles. Though I had no real concept of money at the time, I was still overjoyed that a random stranger did this for us. It was so beautifully unexpected, and caught me off guard entirely.
I don’t really encourage people to eat fast food any more (you can read my past article I Had No Idea I Was Killing My Husband to know more about this journey) but I do encourage random acts of kindness.
One small act can go a very long way. Even 20 years later I still think about that tiny moment. I reflect on it often, wondering where that stranger is now, and if they knew how much they made a little girl’s day (and lifetime) with just a few of their extra dollars.
“One act of kindness may not change the world, but it may change one person’s world.” — Unknown
In his Ted Talk How To Buy Happiness, Michael Norton talks about an experiment he did on a college campus where he gave students a small amount of money in an envelope with a note that either said,
“Spend this on yourself”
“Spend this on somebody else.”
(And in some cases, the participants could choose to spend the money on themselves or someone else.)
He then asked to check back in with them later that night.
Michael Norton found some interesting results…
“If you give undergraduates five dollars, it looks like coffee to them, and they run over to Starbucks and spend it as fast as they can. Some people bought coffee for themselves, the way they usually would, but others bought coffee for somebody else. So the very same purchase, just targeted toward yourself or targeted toward somebody else. What did we find when we called at the end of the day? People who spent money on others got happier; people who spent it on themselves, nothing happened. It didn’t make them less happy, it just didn’t do much for them.” — Michael Norton
It’s a weird principle but one I find works in many aspects of life.
Give to others. Get more for yourself.
“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.” — Lao Tzu
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And if you have found any other weird ways that increase your happiness, I would love to hear more about them in the comments below!