Category: Tips

The New Wave Of Mindfulness Tech: Meditation VR

When talking about the particular stressors of life in the modern age, it’s hard not to point to tech as part of the problem. Technological innovations, it seems, have wormed their way into every corner of our lives. 

When talking about the particular stressors of life in the modern age, it’s hard not to point to tech as part of the problem. Technological innovations, it seems, have wormed their way into every corner of our lives. 

There’s now a smart mirror, for instance, that will analyse your appearance to direct you in how best to carry out your morning beauty routine, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t suffered the mental fatigue of realising they’ve just spent the last hour scrolling through Twitter and Facebook on their smartphones.

Eillie Anzilotti in this report for Fast Company gives another view on how tech can be part of the solution for stress too.

Apps like Headspace (which I highly recommend Sue Warren) facilitate daily check-ins and meditation; wearables like WellBe are even going so far as to measure your stress levels for you. The team at m ss ng p eces, a Brooklyn-based production company (the missing letters are intentional), decided to take it a step further.

“I’m always thinking about ways in which these new technologies like VR are going to enable us to become more immersed in stories and become better human beings,” m ss ng p eces founder and executive producer Ari Kuschnir tells Fast Company. “I didn’t see enough experiments in VR with anything related to mindfulness.”

VR hasn’t yet crossed the threshold into mass consumption, but Kuschnir and the m ss ng p eces team wanted to find a way to use it as a platform to boost mindfulness and relaxation–and reach as many people as possible. “We were thinking of what could be a good place to start, and landed on a VR experience that could also work as a 360-degree video, featuring a well-known spiritual teacher,” Kuschnir says.

Kuschnir immediately thought of Jack Kornfield, the founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California; he’d been listening to Kornfield’s podcasts for years, and admired his ability to weave stories together. Kuschnir ran the idea by Ivan Cash, a contributing creative director at m ss ng p eces; Cash, in turn, told Kuschnir that he had an uncle who worked at Spirit Rock. The m ss ng p eces team got in touch with Kornfield, sending him a sample VR headset and explaining the concept: to translate the storytelling work Kornfield was already doing on his podcast into a more immersive, visual format. Kornfield was immediately on board.

“VR really is the future–it will become widespread as a way for people to experience something they didn’t know before,” Kornfield says. “It’s a particularly beautiful way to capture what it means to be on a retreat or to come to a meditation center. For a lot of people, those experiences are quite foreign–they may think that it’s out of their comfort zone, or not for them. But what VR does is allow people to have an immersive experience where you feel you are actually present somewhere with people around you, and you get a sense of why people gather together in these places.”

The experience put together by Kornfield and m ss ng p eces–which is now available on YouTube as a 360-degree video, and as a VR experience on Daydream and the couple million YouTube-enabled VR headsets–aims to capture myriad facets of meditation. “There are meditation talks, a nature meditation in the hills of Marin County, a walking meditation, for which we’d encourage people not to actually walk through while wearing the VR headset,” Cash says.

As Fast Company has previously reported, it could take around eight years for VR to reach the mainstream “tipping point”–there were 2 million non-Google Cardboard VR headsets in consumers’ hands at the end of 2016, and it’s expected that there will be 135.6 million in use by 2025. But m ss ng p eces feels it’s important to stay ahead of the curve, and begin to prove VR’s usefulness in democratizing access to truly immersive mindfulness-supporting experiences.

In addition to trying to reach those VR users interested in meditation, Kornfield and m ss ng p eces are also looking to partner with organizations who can bring the experience to people in jails and underserved schools, expanding on the mindfulness training work Kornfield has already been doing in those spaces. “And honestly,” Cash says, “hopefully it inspires more creators to explore the interesting tension, which is that we have such amazing technology, but it’s making us miserable. We want to keep figuring out how to make the right kinds of content and resources to support people being happy and fulfilled, and holistically in a better place.”

7 Listening Strategies for Better Business

WE’VE ALL HEARD THE EXPRESSION ‘KNOWLEDGE IS POWER’, BUT CONSIDER THE MAXIM ‘LISTENING IS POWER’ – THERE IS NO KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT LISTENING.

“Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak.” Richard Branson.

WE’VE ALL HEARD THE EXPRESSION ‘KNOWLEDGE IS POWER’, BUT CONSIDER THE MAXIM ‘LISTENING IS POWER’ – THERE IS NO KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT LISTENING.

Thanks to ilume who I trained with last year, and Tim Parkman for this free guide to excellent listening skills, the foundation to business growth and success.  

Listening is how we acquire the facts that lead to good decisions. It can also build trust, reduce conflict and improve morale. If you introduce strategies to make your people better listeners, better business can only follow. At Ilume we know a lot about listening. It’s something we practice to the highest level each day. Drawing from our knowledge and experience, as well as recent research and insights from listening experts, we’ve assembled seven powerful pointers on listening.

1. RECOGNISE WHAT LEVEL OF LISTENING YOU ARE AT 

Here at ilume we recognise that there are 4 stages of listening:
HEARING This is the most superficial listening level, and it’s not really listening at all. Hearing registers the sound waves of the other person’s voice, but nothing’s getting through to you. You can hear someone talk and be thinking of something else, or even doing something else. When sitting at the breakfast table reading the paper you might hear the “chatter” around you but not really take it in. Think of the conversations you zone out of, and then a question is asked and you are trying to madly jump back in.

SELECTIVE LISTENING You’re listening with a story in mind – ‘what does this mean to me?”. When you listen to someone at this level, you’re trying to link their experiences to your own. What they say will trigger your memories. This level of listening is often employed in day-to-day conversations, particularly when stories are shared back and forth.

ATTENTIVE LISTENING At this level you’re specifically listening for something in what the speaker is saying, and you’re thinking and acting in ways that connect you with the speaker. This level of listening happens naturally when you’re very interested in what the speaker’s saying. Think about times when you are building a relationship with someone new and wanting to build on information, and connect in the best possible way.

CONSCIOUS LISTENING The deepest level of listening, conscious listening is also called ‘empathic listening’. You’re keeping yourself out of the way and listening with the minimum of judgement. There is almost no internal dialogue. At this level, you’re in the best position to understand and feel what the speaker is saying, and this level is often employed when you are dedicated to a totally open mind and perspective, controlling your attention and making people feel like they are the only person in the room.

2. USE CONSCIOUS LISTENING AS YOUR KEY BUSINESS TOOL
For business, the primary benefit of conscious listening is building stronger interpersonal connections, which can lead to getting a ‘yes’ when you need it. When people can see and feel that you truly understand them, and that you’re not passing judgement, they feel respected – and they’ll respect you in turn. In his white paper ‘Active listening’, James Clawson, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, likens conscious listening to a ‘magic wand’ – a hugely effective asset for business transformation. His tips for conscious listening include:
• Suspending judgement of the speaker
• Focusing on emotion as well as content
• Following, not leading, the conversation
• Accurately reflecting back to the speaker what you understand

Apart from improving your relationship with the speaker, conscious listening allows you to learn and grow. Unless we absorb other people’s opinions, experiences and knowledge, we’re doomed to get stuck in a thinking rut.

3. TURN OFF LISTENING BLIND SPOTS
Real-world ‘power influencers’ Mark Goulston and John Ullmen say we all have blind spots in our brains that distort our ability to listen without judgement. Our own needs, biases, experiences and agenda get in the way of truly understanding what the speaker is trying to express. To listen beyond your blind spot – even when you find it difficult to concur with the speaker – you need to be able to temporarily turn your own beliefs off.

eg If you’re listening to a proponent of public transport who wants to axe company cars, but you’re an avid motorist who detests bus rides, your blind spot makes you less inclined to appreciate the speaker’s points. You’re not consciously listening, because your brain is too busy actively assembling an argument against public transport to defend your driving agenda.

4. TWO EARS, ONE MOUTH
So use them in that order. When you dominate conversations and interrupt often, it’s easy to make the other person feel unimportant. Your ears will always be a more effective tool than your mouth, especially if you’re a manager trying to win the cooperation and commitment of an employee. By saying less, using effective listening skills and asking open questions, leaders have the power to raise the motivation to work effectively.

In his article ‘Motivating Employees by Using Effective Listening Skills’, author Brian Tracy talks about holding staff meetings where everybody gets airtime. He learned to do this because his previous approach had been to use staff meetings as an opportunity to hold forth with his ‘fascinating ideas, opinions and advice’. It eventually dawned on him that he was abusing his leadership position, wasting the time of his employees and diminishing their passion for work. David Staffer’s article ‘Yo, Listen Up’ in Harvard Management Update paints a portrait of the manager as a good listener: • You’re looking at the talker, asking probing questions and giving him or her more than enough time to answer. • You’re clearly communicating the importance of every word you hear by taking notes, leaning toward the talker and nodding to show you understand. Ask yourself: Are you leading by listening? Or are you holding forth, determined to speak your own truth?

5. RESIST FORMULATING AND SPOUTING A SOLUTION
Thinking about solutions is a mistake that many of us make while listening to somebody else’s challenges. It’s essentially multi-tasking, because instead of simply focusing on what the other person is saying and feeling, you’re trying to come up with answers. Leadership guru Peter Bregman says problem solving to make people feel better can have the opposite effect. It can even lead to an argument: He goes on to say that “sometimes, just listening is problem-solving”. eg If you’re listening to a proponent of public transport who wants to axe company cars, but you’re an avid motorist who detests bus rides, your blind spot makes you less inclined to appreciate the speaker’s points. You’re not consciously listening, because your brain is too busy actively assembling an argument against public transport to defend your driving agenda. “ Most of the time when we try to make people feel better, we end up arguing with them because we’re contradicting what they’re feeling. Which, inevitably, makes them feel worse.”
As a listener, remember that your objective is to understand and empathise, not to fix. By being allowed to express themselves without input or judgment, the speaker is often working towards a solution.

6. KNOW THAT BETTER TIME MANAGEMENT MAKES LEADERS AND MANAGERS BETTER LISTENERS

Quoted in a Harvard Business School newsletter, sales training guru Bill Brooks says the most overlooked reason for poor listening is poor time management. People simply don’t take time to receive and understand messages. He goes on to say that many who don’t open their receptors are stuck in an ‘activity trap’. Their immediate tasks, however trivial, are stopping them from paying attention. And the worst thing about this is that the stress generated by poor time management means that “people will listen mainly to their own voice” – the one that’s whinging constantly about having too much to do. This nugget of wisdom suggests that one answer to improving listening skills within your team is to provide them with time management coaching. It’s a lateral approach that’s likely to have many other positive spinoffs for your business.

7. QUALITY LISTENING COACHING DELIVERS QUICK PAYBACK
An increasing number of enterprises have recognised that excellent listening skills are foundational to business growth and success. At every level of an organisation an investment in listening coaching can result in better interpersonal relationships, both internally and externally, which has a flow-on effect all the way to an improved bottom line. Think about it this way: if you deliver effective listening coaching before a conference or any other kind of training or development, all the learning that comes after will be better-absorbed. That’s a quick payback.

At Ilume, our specialty is designing and delivering effective executive coaching and development of senior leaders. More than 20 years of experience in Australia and New Zealand has given us the ability to deliver listening coaching that sticks. We also offer accredited training programmes that would enable you to develop your own listening coaches. [email protected] Level 6, Rabobank Tower,

The Best Exercise for Ageing Muscles

I just rode a 26 kilometre cycle challenge. It was tough and I found it really difficult. I said to myself afterwards, gutted that I didn’t do as well as I expected, but gutsy that I gave it a go…what about exercise for ageing muscles?

    I just rode a 26 kilometre cycle challenge. It was tough and I found it extremely difficult. I said to myself afterwards, gutted that I didn’t do as well as I expected, but gutsy that I gave it a go.

I read this article from the New York Times, March 23, by Gretchen Reynolds and it made me feel a whole lot better that I am doing my body and mind a great favour as I keep at the exercise – and as it turns out cycling is a pretty good option for older people!

“The toll that ageing takes on a body extends all the way down to the cellular level. But the damage accrued by cells in older muscles is especially severe, because they do not regenerate easily and they become weaker as their mitochondria, which produce energy, diminish in vigour and number.
A study published this month in Cell Metabolism, however, suggests that certain sorts of workouts may undo some of what the years can do to our mitochondria.

Exercise is good for people, as everyone knows. But scientists have surprisingly little understanding of its cellular impacts and how those might vary by activity and the age of the exerciser.

So researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recently conducted an experiment on the cells of 72 healthy but sedentary men and women who were 30 or younger or older than 64. After baseline measures were established for their aerobic fitness, their blood-sugar levels and the gene activity and mitochondrial health in their muscle cells, the volunteers were randomly assigned to a particular exercise regimen.

Some of them did vigorous weight training several times a week; some did brief interval training three times a week on stationary bicycles (pedaling hard for four minutes, resting for three and then repeating that sequence three more times); some rode stationary bikes at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a few times a week and lifted weights lightly on other days. A fourth group, the control, did not exercise.

After 12 weeks, the lab tests were repeated. In general, everyone experienced improvements in fitness and an ability to regulate blood sugar.

There were some unsurprising differences: The gains in muscle mass and strength were greater for those who exercised only with weights, while interval training had the strongest influence on endurance.

But more unexpected results were found in the biopsied muscle cells. Among the younger subjects who went through interval training, the activity levels had changed in 274 genes, compared with 170 genes for those who exercised more moderately and 74 for the weight lifters. Among the older cohort, almost 400 genes were working differently now, compared with 33 for the weight lifters and only 19 for the moderate exercisers.

Many of these affected genes, especially in the cells of the interval trainers, are believed to influence the ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscle cells; the subjects who did the interval workouts showed increases in the number and health of their mitochondria — an impact that was particularly pronounced among the older cyclists.

It seems as if the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with ageing was “corrected” with exercise, especially if it was intense, says Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, a professor of medicine and an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic and the study’s senior author. In fact, older people’s cells responded in some ways more robustly to intense exercise than the cells of the young did — suggesting, he says, that it is never too late to benefit from exercise.”

Of course it is never too late! So there you go, exercise is both fun and healthy, plus something like cycling gets you out and about in the fresh air and beautiful scenery, and for me the best part is it’s a solo activity where you are always trying to improve, yet best done with mates!

13 Things You Can Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

Sometimes, to become successful, we do not need to add more things, we need to give up on some of them.
Even though each one of us has a different definition of success, there are certain things that are universal, which, if you give up on them, you will be more successful. Some of them you can give up today, while it might take a bit longer for others.

Sometimes, to become successful, we do not need to add more things, we need to give up on some of them.


Even though each one of us has a different definition of success, there are certain things that are universal, which, if you give up on them, you will be more successful.

Some of them you can give up today, while it might take a bit longer for others.

1. Give Up On The Unhealthy Lifestyle

“Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live.”  — Jim Rohn

If you want to achieve anything in life, everything starts here. First, you have to take care of your health, and there are only two things you need to keep in mind:

Healthy Diet
Physical Activity
Small steps, but you will thank yourself one day.

2. Give Up The Short-term Mindset

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” — Mae West

Successful people set long-term goals, and they know that these aims are merely the result of short-term habits that they need to do every day.

These healthy habits should not be something you do; they should be something you are.

There is a difference between: “Working out to have summer body” and “Working out because that is who you are.”

3. Give Up Playing Small

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

If you never try and take great opportunities, or allow your dreams to become realities, you will never realize your true potential.

Moreover, the world will never benefit from what you could have achieved.

So voice your ideas, don’t be afraid to fail, and certainly don’t be afraid to succeed.

4. Give Up Your Excuses

“It is not about the cards you are dealt, but how you play the hand.” – Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Successful people know that they are responsible for their life, not matter their starting point, weaknesses, and past failures.

Realizing that you are entirely responsible for what happens next in your life, is both frightening and exciting.

However, it is the only way that you can reach the success because excuses limit and prevent us from growing personally and professionally.

Own your life; no one else will.

5. Give Up The Fixed Mindset

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

In a fixed mindset, people believe that their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits and that talent alone creates success — without effort. They are wrong.

Moreover, successful people know this. They invest an immense amount of time on a daily basis to develop a growth mindset, acquire new knowledge, learn new skills and change their perception so that it can benefit their lives.

Remember, who you are today, it is not whom you have to be tomorrow.

6. Give Up Believing In The “Magic Bullet.”

“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better”  — Émile Coué

Overnight success is a myth.

Successful people know that making small continuous improvement every day, will be compounded over time, and give them desired results.

That why you should plan for the future, but focus on the day that’s ahead of you, and improve just 1%.

7. Give Up Your Perfectionism

“Shipping beats perfection.”  — Kahn Academy’s Development Mantra

Nothing will ever be perfect, no matter how much we try.

Fear of failure (or even fear of success) often prevents us from taking action and putting our creation out there in the world. However, many opportunities will be lost if we wait for things to be right.

So, “ship,” and then improve (that 1%).

8. Give Up Multi-tasking

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Successful people know this. That is why they choose one thing and then beat it into submission. No matter what, a business idea, a conversation, or a workout.

Being fully present and committed to one task, is indispensable.

9. Give Up Your Need to Control Everything

“Some things are up to us, and some things are not up to us.”  — Epictetus, Stoic philosopher

Differentiating these two is important.

Detach from the things you cannot control, and focus on the ones you can, and know that sometimes, the only thing you will be able to monitor is your attitude towards something.

Moreover, remember, nobody can be frustrated while saying “Bubbles” in an angry voice.

10. Give Up Saying YES To Things That Don’t Support Your Goals

“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.”  — James Allen

Successful people know this that to accomplish their goals, they will have to say NO to tasks, activities, and demands from your friends, family, and colleagues.

On a short-term, you might sacrifice a bit of instant gratification, but when your goals come to fruition, it will be worth it.

11. Give Up The Toxic People

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

People we spend the most time with, add up to whom we become.

There are less ambitious people, and there are more ambitious people than us. If you spend time with the ones that are less driven than you, your average will go down, and with it your success.

However, if you spend time with people more advanced than you, no matter how challenging that might be, you will be more successful.

Take a look at around yourself, and see if you need to make any changes.

12. Give Up Your Need To Be Liked

“The only way to avoid pissing people off is to do nothing important.” — Oliver Emberton

Think of yourself as a market niche.

There will be many people that like that niche, but there will be individuals who do not, and no matter what you do, you will not be able to make an entire market like you.

This is entirely natural, and there’s no need to do anything to justify yourself.

The only thing you can do is continue being authentic, and know that growing number of “haters” means that you are doing important things.

13. Give Up Your Dependency on The Social Media & Television

“The trouble is, you think you have time” — Jack Kornfield

Impulsive web browsing and television watching is a disease of today’s society.

These two should never be an escape from your life or your goals.

Unless your goals depend on either, you should minimize (or eliminate) your dependency on them. Moreover, direct that time towards things that can enrich your life.


Written by Zdravko Cvijetić Founder Of Zero To Skill

Making the business case for psychological wellbeing

Today is World Mental Health Day (WMHD), a day where organisations all over the world – including the World Health Organization – are raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilising efforts to address them. Read this blog form Fiona Adshead, Chief Wellbeing Officer at Bupa.

Today is World Mental Health Day (WMHD), a day where organisations all over the world – including the World Health Organization – are raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilising efforts to address them. Read this blog form Fiona Adshead, Chief Wellbeing Officer at Bupa.

Like all aspects of our health and wellbeing – and perhaps particularly so – mental health is very personal. In fact, it’s something many of us find difficult to talk about. However, many of us will experience times of mental ill health over our lives, just as we all experience times when we are physically unwell.

With over half the world’s population in work and many working longer than ever before, taking care of our mental wellbeing at work is extremely important – from building the resilience to manage every day pressure, to managing and recovering from mental health issues and illnesses.Employers have an important role to play in this, and a great opportunity to make a positive impact for their people and, in turn, their business.

However, perhaps unsurprisingly, these aren’t easy topics for employers to address.Seen by many as ‘the last taboo’, there is still a cultural stigma around talking about mental health in the workplace and a lack of understanding of how businesses can support staff. Recent research carried out by Bupa UK found that, whilst business leaders are the key to overcoming challenges facing employees’ health and wellbeing, 7 in 10 business leaders (68%) noted a ‘stiff upper lip attitude’ at an executive level, creating barriers to conversations about it.

Yet there’s no denying that it makes good business sense to support employees’ psychological wellbeing in the workplace. One in four people in the UK are likely to experience a mental health problem every year, meaning potentially a quarter of a business’ workforce could be affected.And the impact is clear. Data from the UK shows that absence due to poor mental health management costs employers over £25 billion annually, as well as making a huge dent on productivity – 15.2 million working days were lost to mental health problems such as stress, depression and anxiety in 2013.

Helping people look after their mental wellbeing at work is a key focus for us at Bupa, both for our own people in our role as an employer, and for our customers. It is a complex area and there is no one-size-fits-all silver bullet. Really tackling this means taking a holistic view of everything that contributes to someone’s health and wellbeing, understanding their needs, and providing tailored support.We are all different, and what we need will vary at different times.

Sometimes promoting mental health isn’t about offering a specific tool or product, it’s about creating the right culture and environment, equipping people to look after what matters most to them.That is the thinking, for example, behind a resilience programme we run for our own people. Created with a clinical psychologist, it provides training on the physiology of resilience and energy, making good choices and maintaining a sense of control, as well as educating on the impacts of different mind-sets and attitudes at work. It gives managers permission and employees the flexibility to put themselves first. The idea is that employees identify a few things that make a big difference to their health and happiness – whether that’s walking the dog, having breakfast with their family or a phone call with a friend – and their manager is aware of this.

By making time for these things, no matter what else happens, they can build the resilience to manage pressures and stay at their best.Resilience is part of our global approach to wellbeing for our people, called Smile, with different tailored programmes in place all over the world to help our people be at their best mentally and physically – in work and outside of it.

For example, in the UK, our Healthy Minds programme gives employees confidential services to help manage their mental wellbeing, including direct access to support and treatment, usually without the need to see a GP first, and an online self-help platform.

​Whilst we have some great things in place, there is much more we want to do in this space, to really understand the drivers of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and how we can support people to be at their best – from supportive line manager relationships to a conducive physical environment. It is something we will continue to invest in and develop, for our own employees and our customers.

How To Intentionally Design A Happier Life

This blog published on my birthday by by Elizabeth Seagram, is a great read about an interesting scholar: Paul Dolan, a leading happiness scholar, who here offers strategies for identifying what really makes you happy and doing more of those things.

“Most people assume that they know whether they are happy or not, but in reality, judging our own happiness can be very difficult. There is often a disconnect between what our brains are telling us and what we actually feel. “We tell stories about the things we think should make us happy, but sometimes, when we look a bit closer, we’re not really that happy at all,” says Paul Dolan, a professor at the London School of Economics, a government policy advisor and one of the world’s leading happiness scholars.

This blog published on my birthday by Elizabeth Seagram, is a great read about an interesting scholar: Paul Dolan, a leading happiness scholar, who here offers strategies for identifying what really makes you happy and doing more of those things.

“Most people assume that they know whether they are happy or not, but in reality, judging our own happiness can be very difficult. There is often a disconnect between what our brains are telling us and what we actually feel. “We tell stories about the things we think should make us happy, but sometimes, when we look a bit closer, we’re not really that happy at all,” says Paul Dolan, a professor at the London School of Economics, a government policy advisor and one of the world’s leading happiness scholars.

Perhaps you think you’re happy because you’ve landed your dream job, but in practice, you’re tired from the commute, your coworkers are unfriendly and you’re spending less time with your kids. Or maybe you’ve just gotten engaged and in the flurry of congratulations, it may not register to you that you’re anxious about moving in with your partner. Dolan has concluded that thoughtful, driven people spend so long reflecting about what makes a meaningful life, they sometimes lose sight of what actually feels good to them on a daily basis. “I think we should be paying attention to how we feel day-to-day and moment-to-moment,” he tells Fast Company.

After decades of studying happiness, Dolan has developed a happiness formula. He says that happy people pay attention to the everyday experiences that give them pleasure and purpose, then organise their lives so that they are doing more of those things. It sounds obvious, right? Sure, but the problem is that we spend so much of our lives on autopilot instead of consciously focusing on doing things that make us happy.

“We are creatures of habit and we automate processes very quickly,” Dolan says. “We do a lot of what we do because we’ve always done it, not because it is good for us or because we enjoy it.” The good news, however, is that Dolan offers two tangible ways for us create more happy moments in our lives. The first is creating a mental habit of paying attention to what makes us happy and the second is designing our lives so it is easier to do those things.

DO A HAPPINESS AUDIT

It takes a lot of energy to be constantly thinking about whether or not you are happy. This is why most of us adopt a philosophy about what goes into meaningful life—such as finding satisfying work, getting married, having kids—then we stop wondering whether we are happy. Dolan does not recommend fixating on your daily happiness levels, but rather taking one day a week or month to observe yourself.

“It’s about tuning in to what you are doing, who you are doing it with and how it makes you feel,” Dolan says. “How much worry, stress, anger, joy or contentment do you experience on a given day?” In doing one of these audits himself, Dolan noticed that he got more pleasure out of listening to music on his commute than hearing a podcast, checking his email, or reading. This was not obvious to him until he paid attention to it, but now, he sets off to work with a playlist loaded on his phone.

This was a relatively small fix, but some changes are bigger in scale. In fact, it can be hard to be honest about what truly makes us happy because the answer might involve altering important parts of your life. For instance, if you scrutinize your relationship and realize that you are unhappy, it might seem overwhelming to think about leaving your partner. Or if you determine that your job is making you miserable, you might not relish the idea of looking for a new career.

Dolan says that it is worth confronting these realities because escaping unhappy situations can have an enormously positive impact on your mood and your health in the long term, even though the short term transition might be painful. The key is to be gentle with yourself and not rush into major life changes.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE FOR HAPPINESS

One of the most interesting questions to Dolan is why we fail to do things that make us happy. Sometimes, it comes down to not perceiving what really makes us happy, which is why a happiness audit is so valuable. But often, even when we know that certain activities make us happy, our ingrained habits sabotage our efforts to do them. We might realize that taking an afternoon walk lifts our mood, but because we’re so used to working at our desk all day, it takes effort to pull ourselves away. We might feel better when we sleep earlier, but it might be hard to break the habit of watching TV late into the night.

THERE’S THIS BELIEF THAT ANYTHING WORTH HAVING HAS TO BE EFFORTFUL, BUT REALLY THE OPPOSITE IT TRUE. JUST MAKE HAPPINESS AS EASY AS POSSIBLE.

The solution, according to Dolan, is to deliberately make it very easy to do the things that make us happy. If an action seems difficult or hard, our brains will be inclined to avoid it. But if it seems easy, it takes less willpower to do them. If you love spending time with a certain friend, you could set up a standing weekly or monthly date with that person, so it isn’t a hassle to keep scheduling time to meet. If you want to take that daily afternoon walk, put it on your calendar for all to see. If you fill your kitchen with healthier foods, eating better will take less mental energy. If you enjoy going to the gym, find the closest gym to your house and make friends with the people that hang out there, so you cannot make up excuses not to go.

Dolan believes we can structure our time and design our surroundings in such a way that we can quickly make a habit out of doing things that make us happy. These changes are small and incremental, but this is precisely why he thinks they work so well. “People think that we need big solutions to do the issue of happiness justice,” he says. “There’s this belief that anything worth having has to be effortful, but really the opposite it true. Just make happiness as easy as possible.”

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her work has been published in The Atlantic, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs and The Nation.

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