Do Happy = Be Happier


Ever walked past someone and made eye contact or smiled, only to be ignored? The feeling we all feel in that moment is a little dose of social rejection. The opposite is just as true; when others reciprocate our greeting, it’s a message of

I see you
You belong
You are welcome here
You matter

Positive Psychology Researchers like Shawn Anchor from Harvard University have found that simply by building in this one second behaviour change, they improved self-reported happiness of staff and increased patient referrals in a group of US hospitals.

By doing happiness, our brain ends up thinking happiness and believing it. Doing things that promote happiness can override genetic predisposition and environmental factors which would otherwise lead to stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Shawn has shown that happiness is a behavioural choice. So how do you do happy? Here are his simple, 2-minutes-a-day Happiness Habits:

Daily gratitude: spend 2 minutes a day

  • emailing/texting/telling someone you know, praising or thanking them. Use social media as a force for good! Social support gets stronger when we do this, and people who feel socially connected live longer.
  • Journal/write about one meaningful experience every day - simple acts such as someone opening a door or a nice conversation with someone. Visualising this pleasant event as you write means that the brain interprets the memory in the same way as a live event; your brain takes past happiness and then doubles it.

Say hello and smile at people - yes that includes strangers - and create ripples of positivity to others in your family and community. Smiling tells your brain to be happy, even if you're not.

Meditate - 2 minutes of watching your breath not only impacts your stress and happiness levels, but those of the people around you...ripples! Try this link for free, short meditations.

Exercise - trains your brain to believe that my behaviour matters and ushers in other healthy habits.

Do these for 21 days in a row and watch your happiness grow. For more on Shawn Anchor's work, see:

Before Happiness by Shawn Anchor (2013)

Interview with Oprah Winfrey

Ted Talk

Lisa Hannaford, OAC Psychologist

Last updated: 20 November 2019