Make a habit out of happiness

By Marilee Griffin • Published: January 9th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you want to increase your productivity in 2013, start by increasing your happiness.

When you’re being positive, dopamine floods your system, making you happier and turning on all the learning centers in your brain. As a result, intelligence and energy levels increase and employees are 31 percent more productive.

So how can you be happier from day to day? Most of us are taught at an early age that hard work leads to success — and if we achieve success, we’ll be happy. However, the goal of “success” is constantly moving out of reach. If we get a good job, we want a better job; if we meet a target, we set the target higher. Therefore, happiness is typically short-lived or just out of reach.

Psychologists in the field of positive psychology are trying to reverse this formula. Positivity, they say, inspires productivity; it doesn’t depend on it. For instance, they’ve found that only 25 percent of job success is determined by IQ. Seventy-five percent of job success is determined by one’s optimism level, support system and ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.

Positive psychology is an emerging field that examines how people can become happier and more fulfilled. Rather than operating on the disease model — or in other words, what’s wrong with you — positive psychology examines human strengths such as creativity, resilience, compassion and joy. By studying these positive traits, psychologists can help promote them in average people.

For example, they believe you can actually train yourself to be more positive. There are several techniques that can achieve this, but one of the most effective is keeping a daily list of three new things you’re grateful for.

After 21 days, a new pattern forms in your brain. Instead of focusing on the negative, you actively seek out the positive. Sounds like a good way to start 2013.