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Study Finds A Surprisingly Accurate Predictor Of Happiness

Study Finds A Surprisingly Accurate Predictor Of Happiness

Happiness. We all search for it and we may even spend money on the quest of attaining happiness. Nowadays, you will find countless resources that assert that happiness could be bought, found, etc. However, a recent study conducted at Harvard University finds several surprising and accurate predictors about happiness.

Sometimes when we see friends enjoying their vacation we would think they must be having a greater time than you sitting at home or working in the office. What’s surprising is that the study suggests that it does not matter exactly what you are doing that will predict happiness. According to the data gathered from the Harvard study group, the specific way you spend your day does not predict how happy you are. Rather, the predictive element to happiness is matching your thoughts to your action. To have a strong mental presence of what you are doing.

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How The Study Was Done

In order for the psychologists to study everyday happiness they had to catch their subjects in the act of feeling good or the opposite, feeling bad. Measuring the ingredients in a lab would be extremely difficult and undeniably hard to measure.

In this study the psychologists invested in a technique called experience sampling. Meaning, to interrupt people at random intervals and ask them what they are doing and what is on their mind. You can begin to assemble a specific portrait about someone when you do this multiple times a day for several days at a time.

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The participants in the study were surveyed via an iPhone app. The app would notify the participant to fill out out a quick questionnaire. The questionnaire would ask what they were doing and if they were thinking about what they were doing. If a participant answered that they were not thinking about what they were doing they would answer additional questions inquiring if what they were doing was enjoyable, neutral or not enjoyable.

The Results

The data gathered by the study reveals that we tend to be at our happiest when we are thinking about what we’re doing. For example, a person who is washing the dishes and thinking about washing the dishes is happier than a person who is washing the dishes and thinking of a future vacation.

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The Relationship between Focus and Happiness

Psychologists discovered a large portion of our thoughts, approximately half, are not related to what we are actually doing. Some may hope that a mind that wanders like this would bring us to a happier state of being, but the data gathered during the study suggests otherwise. Turns out, we are happiest when our thoughts and actions are perfectly in line with one another, even if it’s a simple task like taking the trash out.

The Prescription for Happiness:

Sure this sounds like an easy fix, but our mind tends to wander and it happens that our minds are wired to wander from time to time. Our brains prefer an arousal state of existence. If a task can be completed without going into too much thought, our brain figure out a specific ways to create an exciting alternative and send the mind wandering.

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Do know that the mind can be trained to wander less? It takes practice and dedication, but it can be done! You can engage in a meditation practice, work on being mindfully present throughout your day and work on being contentment.

Conclusion:

If you’re like most people and seek happiness, try practicing the art of matching your thoughts to your action. Think about what you’re doing and see how this impacts your overall happiness.

More by this author

Tara Massan

Founder of Be Moved, Life Coach and Writer.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2018

Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset

Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset

What do you think it takes to achieve your goals? Hard work? Lots of actions? While these are paramount to becoming successful in reaching our goals, neither of these are possible without a positive mindset.

As humans, we naturally tend to lean towards a negative outlook when it comes to our hopes and dreams. We are prone to believing that we have limitations either from within ourselves or from external forces keeping us from truly getting to where we want to be in life. Our tendency to think that we’ll “believe it when we see it” suggests that our mindsets are focused on our goals not really being attainable until they’ve been achieved. The problem with this is that this common mindset fuels our limiting beliefs and shows a lack of faith in ourselves.

The Success Mindset

Success in achieving our goals comes down to a ‘success mindset’. Successful mindsets are those focused on victory, based on positive mental attitudes, empowering inclinations and good habits. Acquiring a success mindset is the sure-fire way to dramatically increase your chance to achieve your goals.

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The idea that achieving our goals comes down to our habits and actions is actually a typical type of mindset that misses a crucial point; that our mindset is, in fact, the determiner of our energy and what actions we take. A negative mindset will tend to create negative actions and similarly if we have a mindset that will only set into action once we see ‘proof’ that our goals are achievable, then the road will be much longer and arduous. This is why, instead of thinking “I’ll believe it when I see it”, a success mindset will think “I’ll see it when I believe it.”

The Placebo Effect and What It Shows Us About The Power of Mindset

The placebo effect is a perfect example of how mindset really can be powerful. In scientific trials, a group of participants were told they received medication that will heal an ailment but were actually given a sugar pill that does nothing (the placebo). Yet after the trial the participants believed it’s had a positive effect – sometimes even cured their ailment even though nothing has changed. This is the power of mindset.

How do we apply this to our goals? Well, when we set goals and dreams how often do we really believe they’ll come to fruition? Have absolute faith that they can be achieved? Have a complete unwavering expectation? Most of us don’t because we hold on to negative mindsets and limiting beliefs about ourselves that stop us from fully believing we are capable or that it’s at all possible. We tend to listen to the opinions of others despite them misaligning with our own or bow to societal pressures that make us believe we should think and act a certain way. There are many reasons why we possess these types of mindsets but a success mindset can be achieved.

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How To Create a Success Mindset

People with success mindsets have a particular way of perceiving things. They have positive outlooks and are able to put faith fully in their ability to succeed. With that in mind, here are a few ways that can turn a negative mindset into a successful one.

1. A Success Mindset Comes From a Growth Mindset

How does a mindset even manifest itself? It comes from the way you talk to yourself in the privacy of your own head. Realising this will go a long way towards noticing how you speak to yourself and others around you. If it’s mainly negative language you use when you talk about your goals and aspirations then this is an example of a fixed mindset.

A negative mindset brings with it a huge number of limiting beliefs. It creates a fixed mindset – one that can’t see beyond it’s own limitations. A growth mindset sees these limitations and looks beyond them – it finds ways to overcome obstacles and believes that this will result in success. When you think of your goal, a fixed mindset may think “what if I fail?” A growth mindset would look at the same goal and think “failures happen but that doesn’t mean I won’t be successful.”

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There’s a lot of power in changing your perspective.

2. Look For The Successes

It’s really important to get your mind focused on positive aspects of your goal. Finding inspiration through others can be really uplifting and keep you on track with developing your success mindset; reinforcing your belief that your dreams can be achieved. Find people that you can talk with about how they achieved their goals and seek out and surround yourself with positive people. This is crucial if you’re learning to develop a positive mindset.

3. Eliminate Negativity

You can come up against a lot of negativity sometimes either through other people or within yourself. Understanding that other people’s negative opinions are created through their own fears and limiting beliefs will go a long way in sustaining your success mindset. But for a lot of us, negative chatter can come from within and these usually manifest as negative words such as can’t, won’t, shouldn’t. Sometimes, when we think of how we’re going to achieve our goals, statements in our minds come out as negative absolutes: ‘It never works out for me’ or ‘I always fail.’

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When you notice these coming up you need to turn them around with ‘It always works out for me!’ and ‘I never fail!’ The trick is to believe it no matter what’s happened in the past. Remember that every new day is a clean slate and for you to adjust your mindset.

4. Create a Vision

Envisioning your end goal and seeing it in your mind is an important trait of a success mindset. Allowing ourselves to imagine our success creates a powerful excitement that shouldn’t be underestimated. When our brain becomes excited at the thought of achieving our goals, we become more committed, work harder towards achieving it and more likely to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

If this involves creating a vision board that you can look at to remind yourself every day then go for it. Small techniques like this go a long way in sustaining your success mindset and shouldn’t be dismissed.

An Inspirational Story…

For centuries experts said that running a mile in under 4 minutes was humanly impossible. On the 6th May 1954, Rodger Bannister did just that. As part of his training, Bannister relentlessly visualised the achievement, believing he could accomplish what everyone said wasn’t possible…and he did it.

What’s more amazing is that, as soon as Bannister achieved the 4-minute mile, more and more people also achieved it. How was this possible after so many years of no one achieving it? Because in people’s minds it was suddenly possible – once people knew that it was achievable it created a mindset of success and now, after over fifty years since Bannister did the ‘impossible’, his record has been lowered by 17 seconds – the power of the success mindset!

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