5 Habits for a Happier (and Smarter) Brain in Business and Life
You have the power to rewire your brain to be happier, which can lead to better business thinking.
Everyone wants happiness, but few know how to get it. But achieving happiness does not have to be such a mystery. You have the power to increase your level of happiness even if you are naturally not an upbeat person or are easily affected by the daily ups and downs of business. In fact, research suggests that 40 percent of happiness comes from the choices people make.
A happier person means a potentially smarter one, too. Happiness has a direct influence on your brain, and specifically neuroplasticity, your brain's ability to grow, expand, and improve. When you are happy, your brain simply works better. Think about how more creative, alert, and engaged you are when in a good mood. When your brain is more present, it creates better critical thinking and innovation in your business. And when you are happy, that positive energy tends to spread to those around you like your bosses, co-workers, employees, and customers.
So how can you be happier, and thus help your business mind? It's all about adopting positive habits and experiences that help create a feeling of well-being. Here are seven suggestions that can help:
1. Get rid of negative people.
The Harvard Study on Adult Development, the longest-running study on happiness, found that a common trait among happier people is letting go of negative people in their lives as well as past failures. Remove or limit your exposure to toxic people and focus on the lessons learned from failure and move on without looking back.
In business, this could mean that it may be time to part ways with certain customers or even employees, or at the least re-evaluate your interaction with them to determine if their personality or behavior affects how you conduct business.
2. Get your groceries delivered.
Money can't buy happiness, right? Actually, it can, but only if you know how to spend it. It turns out that buying something that makes you happy offers only short-term bliss, while investing in saving valuable time has longer-serving benefits.
A recent study found that when people spend money on time-saving services, such as a house cleaner, lawn care, or grocery delivery, it can make them feel happier. Plus, saving time elsewhere in your life can free up more time to invest in your business.
By comparison, money spent on material purchases does not increase long-term happiness since the initial spike in enjoyment after a purchase quickly diminishes, as you grow used to the new item.
3. Train for a half marathon.
Exercise increases the production of brain chemicals like endorphins that boost feelings of happiness (the so-called "runner's high"). As I have previously covered, exercise is another way to increase neuroplasticity.
Need motivation to exercise? Try something new and different that offers a challenge, like training for a 5K race or half marathon, or taking up a new sport or activity (like dancing) that has always interested you.
You may be surprised that this kind of endeavor can impact your attitude toward business. If you can accomplish this exercise challenge, it may give you the confidence to take on a more ambitious business goal.
4. Join a book club.
Much research has found a strong association between happiness and a strong social life. Fostering relationships is not always easy, so if you need a push, set up some social rituals. Join a club, or host a weekly or monthly get-together such as a book club or wine tasting with friends. Put it on your calendar like a must-attend business appointment.
At the same time, don't underestimate the value of business networking events. They not only let you connect with people face-to-face--rather than via email or text--but also provide the opportunity to exchange ideas with like-minded people.
5. Volunteer your time.
Volunteering improves your sense of purpose in the world and is linked with an improved mood. You can often link your volunteering efforts with your business interests. For example, in my yoga business, we launched a fund-raiser to help children get access to yoga classes in order to teach them how to cope and manage stress. It's easy to find volunteering opportunities on the web that match your interests.
So the next time you feel stuck at work or in business, think about how to up your happiness quotient. By creating habits and experiences in your life that foster joy and contentment, not only will you -- and those around you -- feel better, but behind the scenes your brain will be rewiring itself for better critical thinking and innovation in business.