The Happiness Decision

Thank You Lionel Ketchian!  I agree, what could possibly be worth throwing my happiness away?  It is so very empowering to make the decision to be happy as it sets the agenda for each moment as we move through the day.  A very powerful mind shift.

Happiness Decision

Lionel: “how about choosing to let the other person be right and I can chose to be happy!”

Laugh and Smile (:

Want to feel better?  Who have you looked in the eye and shared a smile with today?  Really need a lift? Maybe try encouraging a stranger to laugh?

People are 30 times more likely to laugh and be happy when around others. “Laughter was 30 times more frequent in social than solitary situations” according to Psychology Today.  Everyone knows laughter is good medicine.  Boosts of endorphins and other good stuff helps humans flourish.

Many people know smiling also releases chemicals that make us feel good.  But it even works if you don’t feel like smiling!  In short, “…slight distortion in their [face muscle] shape leads to an increase in blood flow into the frontal lobes of the brain and increases in the release of dopamine” also from Psychology Today. So, even ‘fake’ smiles trick your brain into to thinking they are real smiles and it makes us feel good anyway!  Fascinating.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone had a goal to look someone in the eye and smile and then helped them to also smile or even got them to laugh at least 3 times every day?

Shawn Achor: my hero and role model!

If you have not watched the Ted Talk from 2011 from Shawn Achor yet, spend the 12 minutes to tune in and check it out as soon as possible:

Shawn Achor Ted Talk play vid graphic

Beyond funny and entertaining, he so clearly demonstrates why the “the happiness advantage, which is your brain in positive, performs significantly better than when in negative, neutral or stressed.”  What is a significantly better?  There are many benefits, but the big ones are:

  • 31% better performance
  • 37% better at sales
  • 19% better doctor diagnosis

Shawn Achor Benefits of Happiness Advantage graphic

How do we get our brain in positive?  Showing gratitude, meditation, acts of kindness, exercise and journaling about all this good stuff with discipline for at least 21 days.  These rock solid recommendations have proven to help across studies conducted since 2000.

Shawn Achor Moving Our Brain to Positive graphic

Happiness Science: Brain Chemicals

Thanks to Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD for the best overview of what makes our brain happy.  In her book and short presentation provided by Psychology Today, Dr. Graziano Breuning illustrates the roles Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphin play in our happiness.

Dopamine: The awesome feeling you experience from:

  • Achieving something
  • Meeting your needs
  • The expectation of getting or earning something you really love

Serotonin: The splendid feeling you experience from:

  • Being important
  • Others recognizing you as an expert
  • Having social status such as education

Oxytocin: The cool feeling you experience from:

  • Being trusted
  • Being accepted and cherished in your groups
  • Knowing there is certainty in your relationships

Endorphin: The momentary euphoria you experience from

  • Laughter and joy
  • Exercise and excitement
  • Listening to music we love

Happy Brain Chemicals

Action for Happiness has it going on

The folks at Action for Happiness are putting out some great stuff!  They have a happiness pledge (I took it!) and some great resources.  Their GREAT DREAM model is great for providing 10 steps almost anyone can take to be happier.  I can see it being a useful model to use as an example when working with groups on what they might do for improvements to workplace happiness.


David Rock’s SCARF model improves workplace happiness

David Rock has been scanning brains of folks at work for a long time.  He has written a number of books and his best work is on how to create the Reward mind state when at work.  In his short youtube video here, he illustrates how managers can use the SCARF model: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.  Having these elements in place creates workplace happiness; pleasure centers show Dopamine and Oxytocin that create better decisions, better short term memory, and resilience.  Conversely, if SCARF is missing, it releases the ‘bad’ brain chemical Cortisol and creates emotional pain that brain scans show are very similar to physical pain like being hit in the thumb with a hammer!  OUCH!!

David Rock SCARF vid graphic