Until I began researching happiness at Harvard, I thought that if you just worked harder, you’d be more successful, which of course would make you happier. But my research showed that formula doesn’t work. Every time our brain records a success, we change our goalpost for success.
Get good grades? Then you need to get into a better school so you can get a better job. Hit your sales target? They raise your sales target. Maybe once we retire rich, we can be happy. Thus, happiness remains elusive. We teach our kids the same broken formula.
Our brains work the opposite way. A positive brain has a unique advantage over a negative or stressed one. Intelligence improves, sales rise 37 percent and productivity increases 31 percent. In fact, a happy brain improves every business and educational outcome, and many of our health outcomes like longevity and fatigue.
But embedded within this research is this revelation: You can train your brain to raise your level of happiness. Even one quick, daily positive exercise for as little as three weeks can make an impact on your happiness. Start this way: Every day, until you get next month’s magazine, take two minutes to log and describe in detail the most meaningful experience of the past 24 hours. Research shows this doubles the impact of the experience on your brain and increases your happiness.
This simple habit will rewire your brain and improve its ability to create the happiness advantage.