Happiness and Habits // Small Steps to Live Passionately // by Sam Suke

I must confess. I am one of those annoyingly happy people. The kind of person who smiles so often, and for no apparent reason, that it seems fake or is simply irritating. The truth is, I choose to be happy because positivity increases creativity, intelligence, sociability, productivity and effectiveness in….well….just about everything. Now, tell me…if there was a pill that gave you all of this…would you take it? Of course you would. This phenomenon, known as the Happiness Advantage, is well documented (I strongly recommend the TEDtalk by Shawn Achor, goo.gl/QJ73hN, and the book, The Happiness Advantage).

A smiley attitude is a big part of how I #livepassionately

Below are 2 tips for those who want to #livepassionately and capitalise on the #happinessadvantage

1. Three good things
A few years ago, I starting counting my blessings. The simple task of recording three good things every day taught me to automatically seek out the highlights of each day and the people/events/things I am grateful for. This works via something called the 'Tetris effect' - a term derived from a study of people who played the coloured-block game for several hours a day. Tetris aficionados, who are praised for their ability to identify patterns, have reported seeing Tetris blocks in the real world. In some cases, people describe looking at a skyscraper and seeing the long, aqua block. In other cases, moving cars were also mistaken for Tetris blocks. This and other research indicates how the things we focus on become more obvious. This also happens when we buy a new car and suddenly see that car on roads everywhere.

Positive psychologists (a.k.a smiley shrinks) found that people who record three good things each day for one-week are happier in 6-months time (http://goo.gl/0OwcGS). By extension, these people became more creative, intelligent, sociable etc. Incredible when we think this only takes 1-2 minutes. Some people keep a gratitude diary. Others make a mental note. I type them into my iPhone (using the Reminders app) and jot them on to pieces of paper. I collect these pieces of paper in large peanut-butter jars. One jar for each year. So far, I have three jars - each jar with 1000+ pieces of paper.

2. Daily habits
Life is unpredictable, overwhelming and complicated. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply get through today. Maybe you just want to survive today. Maybe you want to thrive. Either way, you can benefit from building habits that make you the person who want to become.

As I write this I am reminded of a line from my man Winstone Churchill, who said “to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” I like to create habits that increase neuroplasticity - our brain’s ability to adapt and learn. Neuroplasticity improves with daily exercise, connectedness, reading, gratitude, meditation and sleep. Here are a few habits that I use to make the most of every day.
* move, 30min
* read, 30min
* meditation, 5min
* connect with one person who I haven’t spoken to in a while (face2face, call, text, email etc)
* gratitude i.e. three good things
* sleep, 7-8hrs

Sam is a physio, surf lifesaver, music lover, someone who I highly respect and is one of my good mates. Sam is spreading positivity and celebrating people through a blog, which follows his journey of giving away 1000 paper cranes in recognition of good deeds and awesome people. Follow the journey here: facebook.com/craneblog

Cam Greenwood