17 Sep 8 Great Happiness Habits
by Miriam Akhtar
Seven years ago as I was going through the MAPP at the University of East London, I had a distinct sense that there were two types of positive psychologists: the researchers and the practitioners. I was definitely in the latter camp. The ‘A’ in my degree title is important. We not only acquire knowledge, but we also apply it, taking the tools off campus and into communities.
Three years later I came across the pioneering Happy City Initiative at the Bristol Happiness Lectures and recognized that we shared a common goal. One of the things I’m most passionate about is broadening the approach to mental health and in particular depression recovery to raise awareness of positive psychology interventions as evidence-based self-help.
I was in the process of writing Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression and was keen to translate the tools into a community program of simple actions that could be used by anyone, regardless of age, background or nationality, to raise and recover their well-being. Here was an opportunity to collaborate and take to scale what I was doing on a one-to-one basis in my coaching practice.
Adopting the growth mindset which has proved to be essential to any process of innovation so that you learn rather than label what happens as success or failure (thank you Carol Dweck), we put together the Happiness Habits program and tested it with groups as diverse as refugee parents in an inner-city school, charity volunteers, and professionals working in health and education.
Working with a group of parents, many of whom had English as a 2nd, 3rd or 4th language was fascinating as it showed how the concepts of love, strengths, and well-being cut across cultures. Happiness is a universal language.
Eight Happiness Habits
After several iterations we settled on 8 habits of happiness delivered in 8 weekly sessions. We called them habits because it takes practice to make these actions something you do automatically. We chose 8 weeks to follow the model of mindfulness programs, allowing adequate time for positive changes to occur.
The beauty of a community program is that you have the power of social contagion on your side. By teaching a group the habits of happiness, not only can they share those tools with friends and family, but as their well-being increases it also has a beneficial effect on other people as happiness spreads to up to 3 degrees of separation, as Christakis and Fowler have demonstrated. So you get the ripple effect of increasing and expanding well-being and thus building individual and community resilience.
Here are the 8 habits of happiness we teach in the program.
Savor Positive Experiences. This is about deepening the enjoyment of life’s good stuff so that you squeeze all the juice out of a positive experience.
Practice Gratitude. Appreciating what’s good in life and what’s going well so that you overcome the mind’s negativity bias which makes us notice what’s wrong before we notice what’s right.
…keep reading the rest of the happiness habits list and the full & original article HERE