Sunday, November 29, 2009

My top three happiness habits

Yesterday a friend of mine asked me what I thought were the three most important "happiness habits". I found the question so intriguing that I decided I would answer it on this blog :-)

Obviously I -- and nobody else, for that matter -- can say what the three definitive happiness habits are. But what I can say is what the top three are for me - at least at this stage of my life. So here we go, in no particular order:

1) The DAILY BAG exercise! It consists of asking and answering the following three questions:
  • what are some of my blessings? (what am I grateful for in my life?)
  • what are some of my accomplishments? (what am I really proud of in my life?)
  • what are my goals, dreams, ambitions? (for today, this month, next five years?)

This exercise comes from the book "The psychology of winning" by Dr. Denis Waitley, and I like this daily exercise so much that I do it at least once a week :-) Personally for me, I find that it's reminding myself of the things that I am grateful for that has the greatest impact on my happiness.

2) Regular daily exercise or movement routine. Every morning I make sure that I get at least five minutes of my favorite physical exercises before continuing with the rest of my day. If possible, I try to get in at least 10 or 15 minutes. What I think is important is experimenting with and discovering a routine that works well. For some such a routine can be based on yoga, others may prefer one based on martial arts. I like to base about 70% of my daily exercise routine on Dan Millman's "Peaceful Warrior Workout" and I flexibly add the other 30% based on however I am feeling that morning. I also think that even if you can do just one minute, than it's worth doing. As Dan says, "one minute every day is a lot better than an hour zero times per week" (or something like that :-)

And if anyone's interested, this routine is a part of my larger "start the day right" routine, which also consists of a meditation, hot/cold shower and at least one piece of fruit for breakfast. I think such a "start the day right" routine is extremely useful, but likely somewhat different for everyone - experiment, experiment, experiment.

3) And finally, I am not sure it this last one is a habit -- perhaps it's more of a principle -- but I find it so important that I want to include it here: Recognize that being happy means being generally happy, and not all the time happy. I am not sure who said it, but "if we were happy all the time, how would we know?". I personally have the feeling that there is a general consensus in society that we have to be happy all the time, otherwise something is wrong. Well I don't buy that. I don't think there is anything wrong at all if we are unhappy, sad or angry once a in a while. In fact, I actually think that being unhappy, sad or angry occasionaly is a sign that we're healthy! It's all about what feelings predominate our lives, and that feeling should hopefully be happiness. I've found that approaching life in this way releases a lot of pressure and, lo and behold, increases the percentage of time that I am happy, AND increases the intensity of this happiness.

Well, I could write about this for hours, but I think I'll stop here. After all, blog entries should be brief. But enough about me. What are your top three happiness habits?

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