Google’s former “Happiness Guru” offers mental exercises to instantly find joy in a matter of seconds.
Even small bouts of unhappiness have the ability to ruin days all together, and, ultimately, we know that life is just too short for that.
Additionally, our moods can affect and infect others, and it’s up to you to decide whether that will be in a positive or negative way.
Fortunately, there are some proven ways to almost instantaneously boost your mood, and turn these hacks into habits that result in long-lasting happiness.
Look no further than Chade-Meng Tan, a former Google engineer turned “Jolly Good Fellow” (yes, that became his new official job title at Google). Tired of being unhappy himself, he found ways to overcome those bad moods through mental exercises.
He then went on to persuade the bosses at Google to let him to teach these mindfulness skills to spark creativity, boost intelligence and promote overall well-being to other employees. In fact, he eventually transitioned to running a mindfulness course company-wide, and even developed his own happiness institute. It’s no small wonder Google has been voted the best place to work multiple times over.
In his latest book, Joy on Demand, he offers some ways to improve your happiness in a matter of seconds, and transform them into habits that create long-lasting happiness.
Without further ado, here are some of his proven mental techniques that can help you achieve instant mood boosts and long-lasting happiness in your own life:
Find “Thin Slices” of Joy
During the hyper-busy workday, it can be hard to pay attention to anything but stress and deadlines, and this can eat away at your positivity.
Tan found that reshaping your mindset towards happiness can be done with mental exercises, including the act of recognizing small, happy moments, or “thin slices of joy” as he calls them. The best part: you can find these in a matter of just three seconds.
Usually these events are quite unremarkable and can often even go unnoticed. For example, taking drink of water, receiving a text from a friend or sinking into a big comfy couch after a long day. Although these moments may only last a few seconds, those seconds and the moments themselves can add up significantly.
Sure, it can be much easier to recognize and find pleasure from big, exciting occurrences and achievements.
But Tan says that, “Thin slices of joy occur in life everywhere… and once you start noticing it, something happens, you find it’s always there. Joy becomes something you can count on.”
The more we observe joy, the more we will experience joy. How? The act of recognizing these small actions, and rather not taking them for granted, allows for the mind to more easily familiarize with joy and eventually help to subconsciously shape our mood into a more joyful one.
Studies show that people who are able to notice the little joys in life are remarkably happier as they get older. And the act of noticing the small things snowballs into a full-blown habit that improves your overall mood.
I find this small dose of relaxation by walking my dog in the park during the day, but you can find it almost anywhere — such as eating a nice meal or even taking a quick breather.
Develop the habit of wishing success to others
Another very powerful habit is wishing happiness to everyone you come across.
Tan said, “Looking at any human being: ‘I wish for this person to be happy.’”
Granted, you may not want to start with the person who cuts you in line at Starbucks, but with people that you already like, and then people to whom you feel neutral. “The reason is to create a mental habit so that when you see someone, your first thought is, ‘I want this person to be happy.’ The people you meet will pick this up unconsciously.”
Multiple scientific studies have shown that paying it forward not only makes others feel better, but creates long-lasting feelings of joy within yourself, and can provide that much-needed boost to your overall mood.
You can start with small acts during the workday: Bring some donuts into work. Offer people coffee. Offer to help with a project. Do what you can to get the whole team beaming, and they’ll do the same for you.
Eventually, you can volunteer, or even work for a business (or make one) that does good by doing well — the sky is the limit.
Deep breaths everybody
Tan is a huge advocate of meditating to achieve happiness, but he also says similar effects can be achieved with a few mindful breaths.
“Bring total and gentle attention to one inhalation and one exhalation. If you have a little time, practice noticing your breath for one minute.”, he said.
This act, better known as mindfullness, might seem insignificant, but it’s a scientifically proven way to pay attention to the present (rather than all the looming deadlines and responsibilities).
You can do this too, by keeping your breath consistent and counting to six when you inhale and exhale and focus on positive thoughts. Before you know it, you’ll be breathing your way into a Zen-like state, and ready to tackle whatever the day throws at you.
The conclusion here is that it’s ultimately up to you to determine your own happiness. There’s no reason a crummy mood should ruin your day, or even a small portion of your day for that matter, as often times when we’re down about something, a quick boost is always within grasp. Develop a conscious desire to want to feel better and take a few of these suggested mindful steps towards doing so. You’ll go from grim to grinning in no time!
Originally published at medium.com