Happiness Hack #10 Cross it Off Everyday

Use a Paper Calendar to Build Habits


92% of people are not successful in achieving their New Year’s resolutions. That is because most people depend on will power which is a limited resource rather than building new habits.   Once something becomes a habit, you don’t have to drain your will power remembering and making yourself do it. Pick something you want to change in order to be happier, like being on a diet, getting more organized, spending less money, or just finding ways to enjoy life. Schedule 15 minutes every day, preferably in the morning when your will power is full, and spend that time working on your new habit. Plan your meals, make a list of two things you want to accomplish that day, work on your budget, or write down something fun you will make happen that day.   Print out a paper calendar with 30 days on it. Every morning when you complete your new habit forming task, put an X on the calendar.   Keep the calendar in a prominent place where you can see it. Try to put an X on each day and not miss a day. If you miss a day, don’t get discouraged, just start over. Keep working on your habit until you have 30 X’s in a row. By that time, it should be habit, something you almost automatically do every day.   Now you can start working on your next habit. It is important not to get discouraged if you go through 2 or 3 calendars before you get 30 in a row. Just keep trying. Once you get the first habit, the others will come easier.

Happiness Hack #4 – Practice Autonomy

Happiness Hack #5 Make Time To Exercise

Happiness Hack #6: Find Flow

Happiness Hack #7 Keep a Happiness Jar

Happiness Hack #8 Finding Meaning

Happiness Hack #9 Start Small



My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness, Exercise, Stress Reduction, Happier, Success, Energy, Productivity

Happiness Hack #5 Make Time To Exercise

Make Time to Exercise and You will be Healthier, Happier, and More Productive.

Our time is constrained and we don’t have time to get everything done as it is. But we should schedule time to exercise on a regular basis. Research by Russell Clayton and colleagues, which is due out in the next issue Human Resource Management, concludes there is a positive relationship between exercise and work life balance. Based on Clayton’s research, people who take the time to exercise feel more self-efficacy. In other words they are confident they can get things done. Completing a regular exercise routine, gives them proof that they are capable of handling bigger challenges, including getting major projects at work done and making time for a happy home life.

Exercise also makes you happier. It gives you more energy. It also provides a mental and emotional break from your daily stress. It gives you time to think and process information. Research has shown that exercise was more effective than Zoloft, an anti-depressant medication, in reducing the symptoms of depression. Exercise improves your brain’s ability to process information. Overall exercise helps you think more clearly, feel more confident, and be more energetic, all of which help you be better at your job.

So take some time out of your busy schedule to exercise. You will be able to get more done instead of less, and you will be happier and more successful.

Happiness Hack #4 – Practice Autonomy

Happiness Hack #6 – Find Flow


My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Get into the Flow

Flow is a state where you lose track of time and your surroundings. You are so caught up in what you are doing, your brain doesn’t process unrelated outside information.


“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…the best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the leading expert on flow, found that people who became really absorbed in what they were doing had higher levels of happiness. The more they got into flow, the happier they were.

Athletes call it being in “the zone”. That place where time stands still and you understand exactly what you need to do and how you need to do it. In your work, there are probably several tasks you seem uniquely suited to. Activities where you have been doing them long enough that you can focus and knock them out, but that always require you be at your top performance. You set aside time and start working. At some point, you are interrupted by a colleague about going to lunch. You look up and realize you have been focused for more than an hour and it seems like only minutes. You don’t remember anything else being in your life in the past hour but you and the task. You feel energized and happy at getting so much done. That is when you have achieved flow.

Flow is something we can control. We can work to find ways to achieve flow and as a result, we can find ways to be happier.

To find flow find adapt your tasks to include the following characteristics:

  1. Potential for Completion – you have a realistic chance of completing the task or that phase of the task.
  2. Concentration – you have or can create the silence or isolation in your environment so you can fully concentrate.
  3. Clear goals – you know exactly what you are going to accomplish and can clearly measure or see that accomplishment.
  4. Immediate Feedback – you know in the moment how you are doing and that you are accomplishing your task.
  5. Control – you feel you have a sense of control over your actions.


Finding Flow will help you be happier while the results of your work while you are in a state of Flow will help you be successful.


My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness is a Choice

Guest Blog from Wayne Irwin


There have been a lot of studies and focus on happiness lately.  While there are a number of factors that impact happiness, the one thing that all of the studies point to is the fact that happiness is within your control – it’s your choice.  That’s right, it is a choice and something that you can take control of immediately.


Many believe that happiness is governed by others and continues to elude them because something “negative” continues to get in their way.  Happiness is really a state of mind and largely about “learned optimism” – the ability to look at the bright side. Take control of your thoughts and make it happen.


There are literally hundreds of things that you can do on a daily basis that will help your happiness.  Here are 3 that you can start with immediately –


Choose your Attitude – Be Positive – choose to look at things from a positive perspective.  There are 2 sides to every issue and your perspective will color your happiness.  By looking at the positive or what good can come from the event, you will begin an upward spiral to being more & more happy more & more of the time.  The same is true on the opposite side.  If you look through a negative lens or worry about everything, then your focus will become jaded and it will be very difficult for you to see the positives.


Have you ever heard the saying – “it’s all in your head”?  There is truth in that saying – if what’s in your head is positive, it is more likely that positive things will happen and take you further down a path of happiness.


Choose your Friends – Happiness is truly contagious.  By spending time around happy people, you will see that they are generally optimistic, grateful for what life has provided, and look for ways to help others.  This in turn will help you visualize yourself with the same perspective.  Your thoughts and attitudes will veer towards being optimistic in different situations – looking curiously at the opportunities, and taking positive actions.


We all know people who live their lives “being” unhappy – maybe you are one of them.  Many times they create the unhappiness by complaining about everything, focusing on negative versus positive, and are generally comforted by being a victim.  You want to avoid these types of people.


Create a circle of friends that are positive and creating positive energy.  If you do this, negativity won’t be an option.


Choose Gratefulness – Being grateful truly allows you to enjoy life.  Gratitude plays such a large role in happiness because it eliminates so many things that can cause unhappiness.  Focus on the good things in your life – don’t compare your life to others – but truly focus on all of the things you can appreciate.  If you simply think of 3 things on a daily basis, you will feel your outlook on life becoming more positive and you will seek out positive things.  I have a “gratefulness jar” in my house.  Every night, we write down something we were grateful for that day and put it in the jar – it sounds simple, but it works.


Practicing gratitude on a daily basis will allow us to appreciate the things in our life – our happiness and our success – more.


Yes, that’s right, HAPPINESS is a choice.  Something we can work on nearly every minute of the day.  Take the three steps listed above and see what a great choice you have made.

Relationships – One of Seven Habits to Cultivate Happiness

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“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved”  George Sand


One of the Happiness Habits is to build close relationships in which you can share your personal feelings and reveal your authentic self.  Ellen Berscheid wrote that “relationships constitute the single most important factor responsible for the survival of homo sapiens


People who have one or more close relationships appear to be happier. It doesn’t seem to matter if we have a large network of close friends or not. What seems to make a difference is if and how often we cooperate in activities and share our personal feelings with a friend or relative. Simply put, it’s not the quantity of our relationships, but the quality that matters.


People who have one or more close friendships appear to be happier and healthier as well.  A summary of research by Bert Uchino shows that positive relationships can have a positive impact on our health, recovery times, and even our longevity.    In their book titled Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener said that

“Like food and air, we seem to need social relationships to thrive.”    The “Grant Study” followed 268 Harvard students beginning in the late 1930’s and continuing through their lifetimes.   They discovered that those students who were good at forming relationships lived longer than those who were not. 

In 2002, two pioneers of Positive Psychology, Ed Diener and Martin Seligman, conducted a study at the University of Illinois on the 10% of students with the highest scores recorded on a survey of personal happiness. They found that the most salient characteristics shared by students who were very happy and showed the fewest signs of depression were “their strong ties to friends and family and commitment to spending time with them.” (“The New Science of Happiness,” Time Magazine, Claudia Wallis, Jan. 09, 2005).

In one study people were asked on random occasions about their mood. They were found to be happiest with their friends, followed by family members, and least happy if they were alone (Larson). Another study constructed a scale of cooperativeness, ie how willing people were to constructively engage in activities with others. This study showed that the cooperativeness of an individual was a predictor of their happiness, though it did not conclusively show if their cooperation resulted in happiness or the other way around (Lu). A study on the quality of relationships found that to avoid loneliness people needed only one close relationship coupled with a network of other relationships. To form a close relationship required a growing amount of “self-disclosure,” or a willingness to reveal ones personal issues and feelings, and without it people with friends would still be lonely (Weiss). A similar study found that some students who had many friends with whom they often spent time were still plagued by loneliness, and this seemed to be related to their tendency to talk about impersonal topics such as sports and pop music instead of their personal life (Weeler).

In their book Connected, Christakis and Fowler showed that you can influence a friend’s happiness by as much as 15% and you can influence your friend’s friend’s happiness by as much as 10%.

The bottom line is that nurturing positive relationships is good for your happiness.


Some activities to help you improve your relationships:


  1. List 3 relationships you should nurture.   What can you do work on those relationships.
  2. Write a letter of gratitude to one of the people on your list and share it with them in person.
  3. Ritualize your relationships – schedule a monthly lunch, a Bowling night, a revolving dinner party, or holiday tradition.
  4. Become a joiner – join a group that does activities you enjoy like reading, sailing, walking, etc.
  5. Help your friends be happier.

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