A Simple & Proven Method for Becoming Happier

Photo by Wikipedia.org
Happiness
Happiness

Can you live a happier life, with a heightened sense of well-being? Yes! And science proves it. Start with this simple exercise.

You can change from being a pessimistic person to an optimistic person, says Martin Seligman, professor of positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. You can become happier, more likely to achieve your life's goals.

The Dalai Lama is well-known for his joyfulness, despite being banished from his own country (Photo by: Wikipedia.org) The Dalai Lama is well-known for his joyfulness, despite being banished from his own country

Decades of studies have found being more positive improves your feelings of well-being, your chances for success in life - personally and professionally, and even increases longevity. I know that feeling optimistic may seem impossible if you're going through a tough time, feel depressed or anxious, or have health concerns. But there is hope. The well-being of those who do this simple exercise is better, and can last months, in fact, the rest of your life.

After years of placebo-controlled testing, the gold standard of scientific study, Seligman suggests this simple assignment to start with:

"Every night for the next week, write down three things that went well today and why they went well."

"... Turns out, six months later, if you start to do that, you statistically have less depression, less anxiety and higher life satisfaction. And importantly, it's addicting. People like doing positive psychology exercises, and they are self-reinforcing," said Seligman in a lecture on positive psychology.

You may have heard about this technique before; I admit it seems simplistic and corny. I never took it seriously until I learned how strong the scientific evidence is. The exercise is basically a form of cognitive therapy, which states that thoughts, feelings and behavior are all connected, and that individuals can move toward overcoming difficulties and meeting their goals by identifying and changing unhelpful or inaccurate thinking, problematic behavior, and distressing emotional responses.

Psychoanalysis can go just so far... Once you've unearthed your demons, ultimately, cognitive/behavioral therapy needs to take over so you can make real changes in your life. It's brave and open-minded to be willing to let go of your skepticism and try to change your thinking, emotions, and behavior. And it may not always be easy... But it works! Please give it a try.

I'd love it if you would contact me and let me know how you feel after one week of doing this exercise. I will be sharing more about the science of becoming happier in my upcoming series of articles ...