The Happiness Advantage

By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

In the book I’ve written entitled, “The Purpose of our Life is to Become a Saint”, I listed down the things that makes us truly happy and they are healthy relationships, personal growth, practice of the virtues, living a life of purpose, and acquiring the gifts of God’s peace and joy.  This summary of the book by Shawn Achor, “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work” adds some bits and pieces to things that makes us truly happy that I wrote in my book.

It is no surprise that happy people perform better in all areas in life and the book of Mr. Achor enumerates some findings based on research that, “Doctors primed with positive emotions perform an accurate diagnosis 19% faster (Estrada, 1997).  Optimistic sales people outperform their counterparts by 56% (Seligman, 2006).  A 2005 meta-study looked at over 200 studies on 275,000 people worldwide and found that happiness led to success in nearly every domain, including work, health, friendship, sociability, and creativity (Lyubomirsky, 2005).”

Here are the five ways you can build your “Happiness Advantage” according to Mr. Achor that is easy to remember because it has an acronym of H.A.P.P.Y (statements in quotation marks are directly from the author):

H-elp Someone by Using Your Signature Strength

“Each time we use a skill, whatever it is, we experience a burst of positivity. If you find yourself in need of a happiness booster, revisit a talent you haven’t used in a while. My signature strength is learning. I exercise my signature strength by reading books, learning new ideas, and sharing those ideas with others. Finding one great idea provides a happiness boost that lasts the entire day.” Your signature strength might be giving advice on a specific topic. Determine what you’re particularly good at and enjoy doing. Each night, before you go to bed, think about how you’re going to use your signature strength to make a small difference in someone’s life.

A-rrange Something to Look Forward to

“One study found that people who just thought about watching their favorite movie actually raised their endorphin levels by 27 percent. Often, the most enjoyable part of an activity is the anticipation. If you can’t take the time for a vacation right now, or even a night out with friends, put something on the calendar—even if it’s a month or a year down the road. Then whenever you need a boost of happiness, remind yourself about it.” Schedule three exciting experiences this week. These experiences might include: Watching a movie you’ve been dying to see, playing a game with a friend, or watching a local concert or comedy show.

P-ractice Gratitude

“When researchers pick random volunteers and train them to be more grateful over a period of a few weeks, they become happier and more optimistic, feel more socially connected, enjoy better quality sleep, and even experience fewer headaches than control groups. Countless other studies have shown that consistently grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving, and less likely to be depressed, anxious, or lonely.” Keep a journal near your bed. Before going to sleep at night or before getting out of bed in the morning, write down 3 things you’re grateful for.  Dr. Peter Kreeft would say that gratitude is the seedbed of joy.  A seedbed as the combined words imply is a bed of fine soil which seedlings are germinated.  If we have that sense of gratitude, we acknowledge we are blessed in life and of course that makes us joyful.  Gratitude means we are happy and thankful with what we already have, which is the opposite of wishing anxiously what we still don’t have, that will surely make us unsatisfied and unhappy.

P-erform Deliberate Acts of Kindness

“Sonja Lyubomirsky, a leading researcher and author of “The How of Happiness”, has found that individuals told to complete five acts of kindness over the course of a day report feeling much happier than control groups and that the feeling lasts for many subsequent days, far after the exercise is over.” Make a conscious decision to help 3 people today: Buy someone a cup of coffee, offer your time to simply listen to someone’s struggles, or send a message of

encouragement to a friend or family member.  If you want additional notes on benefits of kindness refer to my article, “Benefits of Kindness”.

Y-earn for Social Support

“In the midst of challenges and stress, some people choose to hunker down and retreat within themselves. But the most successful people invest in their friends, peers, and family members to propel themselves forward. This principle teaches us how to invest more in one of the greatest predictors of success and excellence—our social support network.” Learn to make plans with friends at the start of each week to ensure your social support bucket stays full. Schedule: Coffee dates, dinners, and game nights (card games, board games, etc.)

Real happiness is closely connected to love and love is to will the good of the others.  Happiness then becomes a fruit of that willing the good of the others.