Stephen Covey’s life-changing book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is a must-read for anyone seeking to be RESILIFIED. Of course, “effectiveness” doesn’t always mean “happiness.”
So here are the Seven Habits of Highly Happy People — influenced by research by one of the most innovative and respected psychologists of our generation, Dr. Martin Seligman. Please buy his amazing books for further information. For more details on each habit, please click on the provided links below.
- Learn to notice what’s going on in your body, your mind, and your world. Not all at once, naturally.
- Highly Happy people notice what their body is telling them—sensations of pleasure, pain, relaxation, stress. They don’t panic about being uncomfortable, they just notice it and let it help them make good choices. They don’t go through life ignoring their body’s signals.
- Highly Happy people notice what their thoughts are telling them. They can “hear” the self-talk that drives their emotions and behaviors. If they notice that their thoughts tend to dwell on negative stuff, they know how to shift this to positive stuff.
- Highly Happy people notice their world. They notice their surroundings, especially nature, and are present in the moment with any source of peace, calm and beauty. They can even be present in a moment of chaos but keep relatively resilient because they know “this too shall pass.”
- In his series of lectures at Harvard University on Positive Psychology, Tal Ben Shahar relates that regular aerobic exercise is such a powerful anti-depressant, that a number of therapists will refuse to see potential clients until after the person has exercised consistently for 2 weeks! Many times, exercise will solve a case of the blahs better and faster than medication or talk therapy.
- Highly Happy people experience and express gratitude daily. These are two different skills.
- Experiencing Gratitude involves thankfulness for things you weren’t aware of (You notice flowers next to the road), enjoyment of those things (You take time to smell the flowers), and learning gratefulness for uncomfortable things (You are grateful for the thorns on the flowers).
- Expressing Gratitude can occur through words and deeds both large and small. One of my favorite examples is to think of someone in your past that you have never thanked properly and write a letter or email to that person. Want a memorable moment? Hand deliver the letter and read it aloud. You both may be transformed.
- Altruism. Highly Happy people go out of their way to be kind and to serve the needs of others. When thinking of the pain of others, our own distress seems to diminish. “Do a good turn daily” is a great motto for happiness.
- Highly Happy people don’t see themselves as the center of the universe, but connect with a “higher power” or principles that exist outside of themselves. This may be an organized religion or even a set of ethical principles, but Highly Happy people try to live a life of integrity that is congruent with their ideals of love, mercy, honesty, justice, compassion, etc. Their spirituality is a guiding star by which their choices are charted.
- Purpose. According to research, at least three general paths to happiness exist:
- The Pleasurable Life: Cultivate the good things this world has to offer including comfort, pleasures, conveniences, and meeting bodily needs.
- The Achieving Life: Seek to master a skill or body of knowledge so that you are highly competent in your life’s calling. The journey is most of the fun, so enjoy the process of becoming very good at what you do. Then, you can make a meaningful contribution to others.
- The Meaningful Life: But what if all your pleasures vanish or they become boring? And you spent your life climbing the ladder of success only to find it was leaning on the wrong wall? People can still be Highly Happy if they can find meaning in their setbacks or even their suffering. This method often involves tapping in to one’s spiritual life as a way to transcend challenges in our physical life. A mother who is sleep-deprived and rocking a sick child can be happy because it is meaningful to comfort her suffering baby. A person who loses his fortune can be happy if he sees it as an opportunity to detach from materialism and connect with others. A person with an obnoxious neighbor can find meaning in learning to stay calm, centered and positive when someone is trying to “push their buttons.”
- Friendship. While some people thrive on a crowd of superficial friends, lasting happiness tends to occur with one or a few close confidants. This may be a spouse, partner, coworker, relative or even a valued pet, but authentic relationships create safety, support, and significance in a world that often creates isolation and disconnection from relationships.
When RESILIFIED people incorporate these Habits, they can increase the odds they will become Highly Happy.