👋 Welcome to Happy Habits

• 4 min read

If there's one thing all of humanity can agree on, it's happiness. We all want to be happy. We might have different ideas of how to get there, but happiness is our one universal destination.

The problem of happiness

Unfortunately, our brains haven't evolved for us to be happy. They evolved for us to survive. Our societies haven't been designed to increase happiness, but rather GDP.

That leaves us with an interesting predicament: How do we discover lasting happiness when our brains and our society are often working against us?

What the science says

Fortunately, the science is pretty clear on the solution: change the way we behave and the way we think. Easier said than done...

How do we do that?

Change our physical and mental habits—those things we do most often and most automatically—to those that make us more happy.

But first, I want to step back and define the word 'habit'.

What is a habit?

A habit is a behavior which has become automatic and therefore happens more frequently and more easily.

When a behavior becomes automatic, we don't have to think much about it or put much energy into it. Behaviors are more or less automatic depending on three factors:

  1. How often we do them
  2. How easy it is to do them
  3. How we feel after we do them

If we do a behavior multiple times a day, find it super easy to do and feel amazing afterwards it will become automatic very quickly. It will become a habit.

On the other hand, if we do a behavior every so often, find it hard to do and don't feel that great afterwards, it won't become automatic.

Where does happiness come in?

Dr. Sonia Lyumborsky in The How of Happiness describes research that shows our happiness is comprised of three factors that have varying influence on our happiness:

  1. Genetics (50% influence)
  2. Thoughts and actions (40%)
  3. Life events (10%)

This means that at least 40% of our happiness is entirely within our control. It's all about how we think and what we do. When you consider epigenetics (how our thoughts and actions influence our genes), alongside our ability to respond to life's events, the percentage of happiness without our control could be much higher...

This is an incredibly liberating insight.

There are some things we do that increase our sense of happiness, meaning and well-being, and some things we do that decrease it.

The interesting thing though, is that what most of us believe will make us happy is actually wrong [1, 2]. We are not only wrong about the behaviors that we think will make us happy, but also about which behaviors we think will make us unhappy [3, 4].

Introducing Happy Habits

My approach with Happy Habits is to help you identify the behaviors that are making you unhappy and help you either: a) stop doing them, or b) replace them with behaviors that science shows will make you happier.

Each week, I'll send out a newsletter featuring a habit and a story. Sometimes the habit will be a happy habit and sometimes it will be an unhappy habit. Your job is to decide which happy habits you want to do, and which of your habits are making you unhappy and need to be stopped or replaced with something else.

I'll also share a story of how I have experienced these habits playing out in my life. If you would be interested in sharing a story about how a habit and happiness—that'd be awesome!

Just drop me a note and we can chat.

Turning insights into habit

I don't want to just give you information. I want to work with you and others to turn these insights into habits using a systematic approach called "Behavior Design" developed by Dr. BJ Fogg at Stanford University.

Behavior Design a unique system of models and methods that differs from pretty much everything else out there. It's fun, playful, and rooted in self-compassion. It doesn't rely on motivation, shame or guilt.

Best of all... it works.!And it's amazingly simple (yet unbelievably profound once you truly understand it).

My gift to you

I've spent lots of money and countless hours learning from BJ and applying his work in personal and professional contexts. I want to give you all the insights I've learned along with the best the science has to offer so that you can build happy habits.

My gift is packaged in a free weekly newsletter that is delivered every Friday. If you'd like to receive this gift, I would kindly ask that you:

  1. Subscribe to the newsletter
  2. Add  15-minute slot to your calendar every Saturday morning to read it
  3. Pick the habits that you actually want to do. Be honest.
  4. Try it out. Do your best.
  5. Notice what happens

If you try building a habit and it works (or doesn't), please let me know! Your feedback is the material I use to make this easier and more effective for everyone.

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Citations

  1. Accuracy and artifact: Reexamining the intensity bias in affective forecasting, Levine, Linda J. Lench, Heather C. Kaplan, Robin L. Safer, Martin A.
  2. Affective forecasting Wilson, Timothy D. Gilbert, Daniel T.
    https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2004-12431-006
  3. Mispredicting distress following romantic breakup: Revealing the time course of the affective forecasting error - Paul W.Eastwicka Eli J.Finkela Tamar Krishnamurti George Loewenstein
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022103107000960
  4. Anticipated versus actual reaction to HIV test results — Sieff, Elaine M; Dawes, Robyn M; Loewenstein, George.
    https://www.proquest.com/openview/b4b9ab8e2dc66449a8d21ba75c45e554/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=41758
← 🖊 Happy Habit #1: Gratitude Journal

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