Go ahead and laugh – your happiness can be one of your biggest health assets. In recent years happiness has become a hot topic. Need a happiness coach? You’ll hear from the founder of the American Happiness Association and get some joyful advice from famed author and spiritual teacher Dr. Deepak Chopra. Finally, neurosurgeon and brain expert Dr. James Doty tells us about a simple morning exercise that could change our life.
In recent years happiness has become a hot topic. It’s been the focus of countless magazine articles and books and it’s led to a new kind of consultant: a happiness coach. Amyee Coget is one of those, and she’s also co-founder of the American Happiness Association. She describes herself as a “sustainable happiness expert.”
“People are generally searching for happiness on the hedonic treadmill, getting the next thing that make them happy through person, place, thing or circumstance. Where in fact if you do get all the right people, place or circumstances in your life that make you happy you will become unhappy within three months. Science proved that in 2006 unless of course you win the lottery then it’s 6 to 12 months.
“For the most part people are interested in sustaining that happiness but nobody knows how. And fortunately we’ve made some amazing advancements in the area of happiness through scientific research where we can actually say if you do A, B and C you will become sustainably happy.”
Amyee told us the first step is deciding to be happy.
“Bringing your happiness into your hands and no longer waiting for the right person, place or circumstance and making that happiness decision is an empowering decision. Actually it’s the most important decision of anyone’s life.”
That happiness decision is the first of Amy’s five steps for sustainable happiness. The second one involves happiness boosters, including one to start the day.
“So I want you to think about this when you are first waking up in the morning. Go ahead and visualize yourself in bed, waking up, and put a smile on your face. Take the corners of your lips and put them toward your cheekbones. So our brain doesn’t know a difference between why we’re smiling and so it triggers happy brain chemistry just because of the muscular structure of our face. It seems very simple, a smile, but it works.”
Amyee’s other steps for sustainable happiness include strategies for combatting happiness challenges, fostering deep inner contentment, and building a positive faith to deal with negativity and fear. Amyee says happiness is a powerful force for achieving optimum health. In fact she says it has the power to transform the world.
“On paradise on earth people would be laughing and smiling, right? I believe in 2008 a research study came out of Harvard that proved that a happy person influences up to three degrees of separation of every single person you come into contact with. And so every single person that I email with, talk to, look at on the street, I’m connecting up to three degrees of separation of every single person and so really I’m like this peace activist, this happiness activist spreading happiness to every single person that I talk to, look at or meet with. So yes, happiness can spread, peace can spread and everyone can do it.”
Someone else who’s deeply studied this topic is our friend Dr. Deepak Chopra. He’s a best selling author and spiritual teacher and so we asked him his view of happiness and how to have more joy in our life:
“People think that if they had the right relationship they would be joyful; if they had enough money they would be joyful; if they were in good health they would be joyful or happy. Actually it’s the other way around: if you’re happy to begin with then you are likely to be healthy and make healthy choices, you’re likely to have the right relationships and you’re likely to be successful because you come from a place of strength.”
Deepak told us research has shown that two things have a big influence on our state of happiness or unhappiness. The first is what he calls “the brain setpoint:”
“You know some people look at a situation and they see problems, other people look at the same situation and they see opportunity. You can change this through meditation, through cognitive therapy. The conditions of your life actually don’t affect your happiness or joy necessarily. So if you win the lottery you’ll be happy, very happy, for a few days but after a year you’ll be exactly as happy or unhappy as you were before that.”
In addition to our positive or negative outlook Deepak says the other key to happiness is the quality of our connection to others. He says when we make other people happy that creates joy inside us.
And the benefit of making others happy was echoed by Dr. James Doty, another expert in mind/body medicine. He’s a world famous neurosurgeon and brain expert and he told us about a simple way to start your day. He says that after you wake up you sit still with your eyes closed and think about those people in your life who’ve demonstrated love or concern for you:
“Then you sit there and say this feeling that I have right now, can I maintain that or consciously think of giving that to other people? And by simply doing that it changes everything. That puts you in a mood where your heart is open and you care. People sense that you care and then they want to be kind to you back. That is just how it works it's the way we were wired.”
So here are our big takeways on this topic: 1) choose to be happy, especially when you wake up every morning, and 2) do everything you can every day to bring that positive caring attitude to the people in your world which in turn will create more happiness and joy in yours.
And who knows, maybe you can also be part of transforming the world by unleashing the power of happiness.