Welcome to the 30 Days to a Happier YOU journey, created and led by positivity psychologist and performance coach Petra Kolber.
Happiness is not a race and we cannot compare our happiness with the happiness of others. While we all have different baseline levels, the great news is we can do a lot to increase our level of joy. Think of these next thirty days as a wellness reboot, a month where you recommit to taking care of your mental health and sense of well-being. There is a science of happiness and it is called positive psychology.
Positive psychology is defined as:
“the scientific study of what make life most worth living.”
There are five pillars to positive psychology and creating a life where you flourish and thrive. These five pillars have the acronym PERMA. We will focus on each of these in the 30 Days to a Happier YOU journey.
- Positive Emotion
Let’s Get Started On Your Journey to a Happier YOU!
Start your journey with the 30 Days to a Happier YOU 45-minute webinar with Petra Kolber. Then, move on to Petra’s Week 1 video – Positive Emotion. Then, each day tackle one Happiness Habit featured at the end of this blog. At the beginning of each week, return back to this blog post for your weekly video and daily happiness habits.
Week 1: Positive Emotion
The focus for week one is on how to elevate your sense of well-being by creating more positive emotions in your life.
Week 2: Engagement
This week we turn our attention to engagement. Are we simply drifting through our life, reacting to the day-to-day problems and challenges, or are we cultivating a mindset where we are deeply committed to showing up as our best (not perfect) self each day.
In a socially distracted world, being able to deepen your engagement in your own life and with others, will be a superpower for your future.
Week 3: Relationships
Healthy and positive relationships are a crucial component of our well-being. We are designed to be in community, and the quality of your relationships with others, and with yourself, play a large role in creating a life where you can flourish and thrive.
Week 4: Meaning
This week we move to the fourth pillar of positive psychology. Blue Zones are the places around the world, where people live and thrive well into their 100s. Dan Buettner, a New York Times Bestselling Author of five books on longevity and happiness, identified these Blue Zones and discovered nine common elements among these communities, one of them being meaning.
Think of meaning as something that may change over time and purpose as more of a constant in your life. Purpose is values-driven and Meaning is actions-driven and together they will motivate you to keep going, even during more challenging times.
Week 5: Accomplishments
Accomplishments, and feeling proud of the work it took to achieve meaningful goals are important components of living a positive and joy-filled life. In a world where we are constantly trying to keep up and are looking at the next goal or milepost, we forget to look back to see how far we have come. On top of that, we can magnify the negative and minimize the positive.
30 Days to a Happier YOU – 30 Days of Happiness Habits
Before you start your day, write down one thing you are looking forward to. It can be as simple as your morning cup of coffee to a scheduled lunch date with a good friend. This is priming your brain. By starting your day with something good, your brain will see more of the same throughout the day.
Prime your space with photos, pictures, or quotes that make you smile. This could be your workspace, your kitchen, or wherever you spend the most time. Our environment affects our mood. Have pictures of your family, your favorite quotes, or an image of a place you have been wanting to visit. Priming your surroundings with positive imagery will help set your day up for success.
Move every day. Movement is one of the best tools you have to boost your sense of well-being. Take a walk during your lunch break, if you sit at a desk, every hour take a five-minute movement break, or go to a local YouFit Gym and get a great workout in. Your brain is happy when it is moving.
Learn to become a benefit seeker. Make a conscious choice to find the positive, even in the more challenging moments. Our brain’s default is the negative, it is called the Negativity Bias and is what kept our ancestors alive. Simply cultivating an awareness of the power of your thoughts is a big step toward a happier you.
Send a gratitude text to someone. Be specific as to why you are thankful that they are in your life, and share just how much you appreciate them. Gratitude and happiness are contagious, so notice how great you also feel when you press send.
When it comes down to creating a more flourishing and happy life, the power that lies in our hands comes down to our choices. The Macro and the Micro. Today, choose to find something positive about everyone you meet. From family to co-workers to strangers. From the people whose company you enjoy to the people whom you may find challenging.
Before you have a conversation, take a moment to pause, take a deep breath and remind yourself to be present, listen well, and speak with kindness.
When you find your mind drifting and worrying about the future or obsessing over something in the past S.T.O.P.
Take a walk (it can even be to a different room) and pause.
Observe your surroundings (what you see, what you hear, what you smell).
Pick a positive thought.
When was the last time you felt time disappear? Now ask yourself these four questions:
Where was I?
Who was I with?
What was I doing?
How did I feel?
Carve out time each day to drop into a place of flow. Think of it as your fitness program for your mind. You don’t have to do it all in one go. Build in pockets of time throughout your day when you can be fully present and engaged. Thi sis active recovery for your brain as when time disappears so do your worries and stress.
Explore the power of curiosity. Perhaps pick up a book from the local library that you wouldn’t normally read. Take a different route to work or change up your usual workout routine. Large or small, do one thing today that is ever so slightly out of your routine.
Breath is our anchor to the present. Whenever you find your mind speeding up and your anxiety levels rising, slow down and bring your attention to your breath. Breathe in deeply and exhale slowly for 60 seconds. Notice the air moving in and out of your nostrils. In one minute, your mind will refocus and your energy will rebalance.
Pick one day this month to do a digital detox. One day completely off social media. Pay attention to how many times you catch yourself wanting to jump on your favorite social platform. No judgment, simply notice how deeply ingrained this habit may have become.
We are going to start this week by reflecting on our inner dialog. We have thousands of thoughts a day, and more than likely the majority of them are negative. This is not a character flaw, but due to your “negativity bias,” which is trying to protect you from harm.
The next time you catch yourself having a negative conversation with yourself, take the time to pause and do a reframe. Instead of focusing on what you “didn’t” do or what may have not gone “perfectly,” find a positive focus from which to look at the situation.
Emotions are contagious. Every time you can walk into a room, you can elevate or dim the energy and positivity. Today, before you enter a meeting, or have a conversation with a friend or family member, pause and take a few deep breaths. Let go of what may have just happened (the last conversation, email, text) and step through the doorway with an intention to elevate the energy in the next room that you enter.
This evening, whether you are dinging solo or with your family, turn off all electronic distractions. Gather around the table and before you start your meal create a gratitude circle.
Often, we use standard greetings without really thinking about the impact. “How are you?” “How’s it going?” etc. All lovely, but not the best way to boost positivity.
Questions have the power to direct our focus and where our focus goes, your life flows. The next time you met someone, instead of the usual greeting ask them, “What is the best thing that has happened today?”
This type of question shifts a person’s perspective toward the positive and is a wonderful gift, as you have just helped someone shift their mind and mood to focus on all that is good in life.
Explore the discipline it takes to listen while remaining in the present moment. Without judgment, spend today noticing your conversation style. Do you tend to interrupt? Perhaps you like to finish people’s sentences, or maybe you are so excited to help the person in front of you, that you already have an answer and a solution ready to go, before hearing everything they have to so say.
Notice and observe. Listening is an active sport and it also takes practice.
We are human beings designed to be in community. Sometimes we get so busy being human “doings” that we lose the moments of deep connection with those around us. Connection brings meaning, and meaning brings more joy.
Write down your “connection committee.” One to five people who you know would be there for you if you needed them. Place the list where you can see it. This is a small but powerful reminder that you are not alone on your journey.
Imagine your life three years from now. Everything had gone well, nothing had gotten in your way and you had the courage to pursue your dreams. Take your time and contemplate how you would your best possible future look. Then down the answers to these four questions:
Where would I be?
Who would I be with?
What would I be doing?
How would I be feeling?
Today, think about changing the inner dialogue. Anytime you find yourself saying “I can’t believe I have to do this,” change the script and say “I am so happy I get to do this.”
It has been said that we have a job, a career, or a calling. Carve out fifteen minutes during your day, and rewrite your job description as though it was your calling. Go through your day as though your J-O-B was your calling and notice if there is a shift in your attitude at the end of your day.
Most of us are experts at noticing all of our faults and flaws and spend every little time savoring all of our strengths. However, it is our strengths that will carry us into a life of meaning and purpose. Carve out about 20 minutes to take a free VIA strength test which can be found at viacharacter.org
VIA stands for Virtues in Action or Values in Action. we all have twenty-four character strengths that we can build upon. This easy-to-complete multiple-choice assessment will help you remember “all that you are” versus “all that you still wish to become.”
Our brain cannot distinguish between real fear from the outside world and false fear that is created in our minds. And when these fears go unaddressed we can miss out on so many magical moments in life.
Write down a list of fears you have. Perhaps it’s public speaking, asking someone on a date, or asking your boss for a raise. Write them down. Choose one to focus on and each day take one small step to put your courage into action. Remember there is no such thing as failure, as FAIL is simply First Attempt In Learning.
Music is an incredible mood booster. Make a positivity playlist. Curate your feel-good tunes and have them ready to go whenever you need a music mood boost.
Pull out the VIA Character assessment that you did on day twenty-two. Write down your top five character strengths on a few post-it notes or index cards. Place them on your refrigerator, by your computer in your hand back, or gym bag.
The next time you are feeling uncertain about where you are going, your next decision, or if you have what it takes to go for your dreams, pull out these cards. They will remind you that you already have everything you need, inside of you.
What is something in your past, that when you think about it you feel a sense of pride? Take a few moments today and write down what it was that you accomplished. What was it that you overcame, pushed through, and challenged yourself? What were all the things that you did to meet that goal, or move through a difficult time to come out better and not bitter?
This short reflection will remind you that you have done hard things in the past, and. you can do them again in the future.
Resilience doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Think of it as a pyramid of I am, I have, I can.
I am my strengths (VIA assessment).
I can learn and grow – a growth mindset.
I have people I can lean on – your connection committee.
Resilience is not something you can practice, it is something you live through and grow from.
These past two years during COVID made you more resilient. Write down one or more positive things that you learned about yourself by going through the pandemic.
You may have heard of Growth versus Fixed Mindset. This comes from the work of American psychologist and author Carol Dweck. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talents are just the starting point. The view creates a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. A fixed mindset means that you believe intelligence is fixed – so if you’re not good at something you might believe you’ll never be good at it.
We are not one or the other but a combination of both.
Reflect on the areas of your life where you have a growth mindset, you are open to change, and learning and you see challenges as opportunities. Then reflect on an area where you may have a bit more of a fixed mindset. Perhaps you tend to give up more easily or feel threatened by other people’s success. What is one thing you can take from your growth and mindset approach to life, that you could apply to all areas of your life?
Flip the switch. When you find yourself ruminating on the worst-case scenario, change your focus to reflect on the best-case scenario. Move your four focus from the outcome, to who you are becoming by stretching yourself and your goals.
Congratulations on completing the 30 Days to a Happier YOU journey! Take a moment to celebrate your efforts. In a busy world, the fact that you took time out of your day to do the hard work of your heart work is a huge accomplishment.
Write down three things that you would like to try to implement on a more consistent. Remember happiness is like Jam, you cannot spread it without getting a little bit on yourself too.