The ABC’S Making Australia Happy project measured its participants’ happiness on a scientifically formulated Happiness Index designed by coaching and consulting psychologist Tony Grant, PhD. Here, he reveals five beliefs that could be hindering your happiness:
1. All self-help books should be burned
Some self-help books are complete rubbish, but others are based on scientific evidence and written by people who understand the science of improving your life. Research shows that such books can be effective happiness tools. Before you look for a book with cred, ask yourself, “Am I really open to the idea that I can make purposeful, positive change?” This is an important first step.
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2. Random acts of kindness are just for do-gooders
‘Random acts of kindness’ is a phrase that seems to belong on a bumper sticker. Still, evidence shows that just watching other people perform altruistic acts can strengthen your immunity and reduce stress. Doing them yourself is even more strongly linked to improved wellness. Try it.
3. I’d be happier if only ...
It’s certainly important to have goals and aspirations, but it’s also possible to suffer from something called deferred-happiness syndrome. This is when you think, Everything will be okay as soon as I find a boyfriend/leave my job/get through this week or I’ll be happier when I’ve lost weight/gotten a raise/had a holiday. We’re living life today; we must find happiness in the now.
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4. Meditation is only for monks and hippies
If you think this is true, then you’re missing out on a fantastic opportunity to improve your happiness. Meditation’s positive effects on the brain are well-established. Training your mind to focus can help you really experience—and get more value out of—your life.
5. Winning the lottery will solve all your problems
You’re right—you will be happier for a time. However, humans are subject to the phenomenon of ‘hedonic adaptation’. This is when something great happens to you, but you very quickly get used to it, and your happiness returns to its former level. Improving your happiness is about much bigger things than luck and Lotto. It’s about being human and accepting that life can be hard work.