Happy hacks lead you to a happier, more peaceful person


I am very blessed in my job that I have many opportunities for professional development. Last week I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Dave Schramm from Utah State University where he specializes in family life extension.

He shared information about happiness and the pursuit of our life potential. While laughing at his presentation, I made a few notes that I hope we can all benefit from.

Happy brains are productive brains

Happiness serves us to put a lot more than just a laugh or a smile on our face. When our brains are really happy we are three times more creative, 31% more productive, and our energy, intelligence and accuracy increase.

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New research shows that not all success is equal to happiness, but we become more successful when we are happier and more positive. This is not an easy transition in our brain as we see the negative five times more often than the positive in life situations.

There are three types of happiness:

  • Having a comfortable life based on our positive emotions and joys
  • Live a good life – use our strengths, talents and our flow of energy
  • Meaningful life – finding a higher purpose, volunteering and giving in service

He shared with us the emotions that influence our views from the past, including sadness, anger, regret, guilt, shame, irritation, hatred, hurt, envy, embarrassment, and others. The emotions from the future are also challenging, such as fear, anxiety, stress, doubt, worry, helplessness, tension, pessimism, powerlessness, fear, etc.

But these present emotions are happiness, peace, love, joy, interest, trust, excitement, kindness, joy, and obviously pleasant.

Attitudes come from genetics, circumstances, and beliefs

I was very curious to learn that 50% of our general attitudes are genetic, we inherit our potential attitudes from our parents. Another 10% comes from our external circumstances (money, home, marriage), and that leaves 40% of our chances of happiness in the thoughts and actions we experience on a regular basis.

He shared with us the following 21 day plan for a happier life.

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Happy hacks

  1. Pay attention. You are happier and healthier when you are mindful.
  2. Cherish your friends. It is important to make time for the people in your life. Be 100% present when spending time with your family and friends.
  3. Use your strengths. Get to know your strengths and then shape your life so that you can use them.
  4. To thank. The good moments in the past and present should be enjoyed.
  5. Move. Exercising regularly can increase your happiness and reduce your stress levels.
  6. Drop grudges. Relieve and open your heart by forgiving and forgetting.
  7. Smile more. Smiling enables you to have sunshine in your life and will spread to others. Your general well-being is influenced by what we transmit with our face, voice and body language.
  8. Practice kindness. Feel good doing good things and serving others. One of the best ways to raise your mood is to do something kind for someone else.
  9. Make a record. Write down the good things that happen in your life.
  10. Find flow. Make time for activities that use your strengths. Flow occurs when you are focused and immersed in an activity that you enjoy.

Happiness comes when we thrive in our own personal life. As we near the Thanksgiving holiday, I urge us to really look at these and choose one or two at a time to put into practice.

Changing our habits takes work, but the overall results are worth the extra effort.

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and can be reached at 330-264-8722.


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