What if there was a diet that increased happiness? Would you try it?
This diet just so happens to exist. It doesn’t focus on the food you eat (although good nutrition helps). This diet focuses on what you feed your mind. Our bodies need good nutrition, exercise, and rest. If we feed our bodies crap, we feel like crap. The same is true for our minds.
It can feel like we are being bombarded with negative messages. Happiness expert, Shawn Achor, found that just “three minutes of negative news in the morning increased the likelihood of feeling unhappy six to eight hours later.” Achor believes this negative news could trigger “learned helplessness” which has been connected to a higher likelihood of depression. What we feed our minds is that powerful.3 minutes of negative news increases the likelihood of feeling unhappy 6 to 8 hours later. - Shawn Achor Click To Tweet
So how do we fix it?
Just as we have control over what we feed our bodies, we can also control what goes into our minds. It takes a bit of training but the results are life changing. Here are five steps to reclaim your happiness.
The Five Step Happiness Diet
1 – Turn Off the News
Some people argue that not watching the news makes me uninformed and irresponsible. I would argue that choosing what I consume is more responsible and makes me more informed. For example, if I wanted to know more about political candidates, I would be better off reading bills they authored than watching hours of opinions on the national news.
What about breaking news? Trust me, if it’s important, you’ll hear about it. I’ve been news free for years and I’ve yet to miss anything important.
2 – Say No to Gossip
I’m not saying it’s easy. People are fascinating and I find myself getting sucked into crazy stories from time to time. But it never makes me feel good after. The crazier the story, the worse I feel.
It’s important to remember that whatever this gossip is willing to tell you about someone, they’re more than willing to blab about you. When you find yourself involved with gossip, think about how it would feel to hear this conversation with you as the subject.
Ending the conversation is simple. You could say, “I don’t feel comfortable discussing Suzie’s life without hearing her side of the story.” If you don’t feel comfortable being so direct, you could try to change the subject. If these approaches don’t work, a little distance might be in order.
3 – Be Mindful of Social Media
Social media is a powerful connection tool. Who could have imagined that grandparents living 500 miles away could watch their grandson’s first steps as they happen?
But with all the good, there’s potential for bad. We’ve all heard the reports that social media can have a negative effect on our wellbeing. In addition, it can be a real time sink. I know all too well how you can log into Facebook to find an article, and an hour later find yourself trying to remember why you logged in.
I’m not asking that you cut social media entirely. Rather be mindful of what you are taking in and the amount of time you engage. I recently found this Chrome app that has helped me regain control of Facebook.
4 – Fuel Your Mind with Positive Media
The technology that allows us to get distracted with Facebook also provides endless positive content. You can watch TED Talks at the gym, listen to podcasts while you commute, or spend your evening relaxing with a good book. I suggest using a combination that works best for you. Here are some of my favorite resources.
Books and Audiobooks:
- My Recommended Books
- What I’m Reading Now – The Happiness of Pursuit
- What I Was Reading When I Wrote This – Contagious
- Best Career Advice – 48 Days
- Best Personal Finance Strategy – Total Money Makeover
- Best Personal Development – 7 Habits
5 – Make it a Habit
A habit is a behavior pattern practiced consistently until it becomes involuntary. Think about how you can make positive media a habit. For example, I always listen to podcasts while I’m cooking. At the end of the day when all of my chores are done, there is no time for Netflix or social media until I’ve read for at least 30 minutes. Maybe you will only listen to audiobooks while commuting or start watching TED Talks on your lunch break. Figure out how you can consistently trigger these habits in your daily life.
Maybe you will listen to audiobooks while commuting or start watching TED Talks on your lunch break. Figure out how you can consistently trigger these habits in your daily life.
These tips are not theory. Turning off the news and replacing it with positive content has changed the trajectory of our lives. I would love to challenge you to give it a shot for 30 minutes a day for 30 days.
To offer accountability and support, I created a Facebook group. Please click join and when you are approved introduce yourself. We have a group of AWESOME folks who will help you along the way. Many who have completed the challenge themselves.
This group is private and is for your benefit. Please plan to interact. Share what you’re listening to or reading. Share your challenges and triumphs. This group will give you the opportunity to take action while not requiring a huge amount of effort or time.
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