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I stumbled upon Marvin Agustin’s 14 tips on Harvard’s Positive Psychology. According to him, 20 percent of Harvard students take Prof. Ben Shahar’s Positive Psychology elective course every semester.
Amazing! Prof. Shahar must be teaching this subject so well and so entertaining, huh?
The 35-year-old Prof. Shahar said that they focus on happiness, self-esteem, and motivation in the class. He has 14 tips that can “help students succeed and face life with more joy.”
I’ll share these 14 tips with you. I’ll let you know which ones I’ve already been doing, too.
Tip 1: Thank God for everything you have: Write down 10 things you have in your life that give you happiness. Focus on the good things!
I do this. Gratefulness causes happiness. Grateful people are happy people. Don’t interchange the words. You are not grateful because you’re happy. You’re happy because you’re grateful. Being grateful must happen first before you reach the point of being happy.
I like how Prof. Shahar encourages his students to focus on good things. That’s true! What you focus on grows.
I have a challenge for you. Go to the mall this weekend. Count the number of bald people you’ll see for an hour. I am sure you’ll notice them more than the number of pregnant women who walked in front of you. What you focus on gets magnified.
Tip 2. Practice physical activity. Experts say exercising helps improve mood. Thirty minutes of exercise is the best antidote against sadness and stress.
I do this. Every day, I run for 5 kilometers. My 2017 goal is to run for 360 kilometers. It looks like I am going to outperform this target by 200 to 260 percent by the end of this year. It takes me 30 to 32 minutes to finish a 5-kilometer run.
It was raining hard yesterday but I ran into the pouring rain. The last time I ran under the rain was when I was in elementary school. It was fun to be a child again!
Tip 3. Breakfast. Some people miss breakfast for lack of time or not to get fat. Studies show that breakfast gives you energy, helps you think and perform your activities successfully.
I do this and I strongly agree. I grab some fruits or eat one big fried fish (or do both) before I run in the morning. Then, I bring a 2-liter jug of lemon water to keep myself hydrated.
Tip 4. Assertive. Ask what you want and say what you think. Being assertive helps improve your self-esteem. Being left and remaining silent creates sadness and hopelessness.
I do this. When I run, I run counter-clockwise while everyone runs and walks clockwise.
Why do I do that?
It’s my version of conditioning, reminding, and telling myself that I am not going to settle with what’s going in unison regardless if that has been the practice before I was born.
You cannot box me or you’ll have to fight with your hands.
When I run, I run at the center of the pavement. Then, in my mind, I tell myself all of the good, positive, and superlative adjectives I can think of.
E.g. “I am amazing. I am awesome. I am unconquerable. I am healthy. I am strong. I am fantastic. I look good.”
Go out and cheer yourself up. Applaud yourself. Tap yourself on the back. Give yourself a medal.
So when I exercise, I not only strengthen my physical body but also my psychology.
This is my Physical and Mental Toughness 101.
This is how I nurture the alpha male in me.
Tip 5. Spend your money on experiences. A study found that 75% of people felt happier when they invested their money in travel, courses, and classes, while only the rest said they felt happier when buying things.
I do this. I agree with this, too. My wife and I are frugal on things. We don’t buy things just because it’s on sale or just because we can afford to buy it. We exercise delayed gratification but we take delight on vacations. I prefer experience over things.
Tip 6. Face your challenges. Studies show that the more you postpone something, the more anxiety and tension you generate. Write short weekly lists of tasks and complete them.
I don’t procrastinate. I am supposed to get my car washed right at this moment but I chose to write this blog before going to the cash wash station.
I am very good at writing and following my to-do list even if that means staying awake all night. The “do it by hook or by crook” mentality is tattooed on my forehead.
I advise having a to-do list when I train new leaders in my businesses, too. Then, I follow through. They know that I remember. I might forget, but when I remember and you did not accomplish what you were supposed to accomplish, and you didn’t bother being proactive in sending me an explanation for your missed deliverable, you’ll have a long day with me tomorrow.
While I understand that every person is different, it’s my default tendency to expect others to have high standards for themselves like I do to myself. I have one mind and one heart. The heart and mind I use to maintain the highest standards for myself are the same organs that I use when I deal with other people. Are you getting what I’m saying?
Tip 7. Put everywhere nice memories, phrases, and photos of your loved ones. Fill your fridge, your computer, your desk, your room, YOUR LIFE of beautiful memories.
I prefer receiving handwritten letters than ready-to-pack gifts. My wife gave me a 24-inch letter last year. It’s still on my table up to now. Sometimes, I put it in front of my 21-inch secondary monitor on my table. Sometimes it’s at the back of my laptop. Sometimes, it’s in my drawer. The photos of my wife and son and the old letters of my wife are all in my drawer. I’m an old soul.
I wrote her a poem. You’ll form her name when you get the first letter of every first line in every stanza.
Tip 8. Always greet and be nice to other people. More than 100 inquiries state that just smiling changes the mood.
I need to improve on this. I am a homey kind of a businessman because my businesses are home-based. I don’t go out so often. So I don’t get to stretch the muscles in my face for others that often.
Tip 9. Wear comfortable shoes. If your feet hurt you, you become moody, says Dr. Keinth Wapner, President of the American Orthopedics Association.
I agree with this although you might think it’s funny if you just read the first sentence and didn’t bother understanding the relationship between your feet’s protection and your mood.
I bought a new pair of running shoes. I had no plans of buying one until my old running shoes’ soles were detached. While I live a frugal life, I still want to keep the “common sense” in me by not making do with the sole-less running shoes.
Tip 10. Take care of your posture. Walk straight with your shoulders slightly backward and the front view helps to maintain a good mood.
I would consider myself as a retard if I still don’t get this thing about posture all this time. We all hear this from our teachers from elementary until college. I’m sure you also heard it from your Mom when she was giving you a sermon, and you were slouching, and that sent her the signal that you were not interested with her preaching. Well, I’m guilty of that, too! It takes one to know one.
Tip 11. Listen to music (Praise God). It is proven that listening to music awakens you to sing, this will make your life happy.
I do this. I bought a high-quality headset to listen to worship songs while I work. If it’s not a worship song, I listen to a looping sound of rain or sound waves at the beach. It helps me keep my focus and momentum. Try it. You’ll never know what you’re gaining or losing until you try what I’m saying.
Tip 12. What you eat has an impact on your mood. Do not skip meals, eat lightly every 3 to 4 hours and keep glucose levels stable. Avoid excess white flour and sugar. Eat everything healthy. Vary your food.
I love eating fruits, fish, and vegetables. I also bring a 2-liter lemon water with me in my home-office to keep myself hydrated.
I can’t be hungry. You can’t make me hungry. Otherwise, you’ll see Wolverine’s berserker barrage.
It only means two things when I am grumpy. It’s either I lack sleep or you ate my food.
Tip 13. Take care of yourself and feel attractive. Seventy percent of people say they feel happier when they think they look good.
I take care of myself by eating the right class and amount of food. I exercise. I shower. I wear comfortable clothes. I don’t care whether there’s a frog, a horse, or a never-heard logo on my shirt for as long as it’s a clean shirt.
Tip 14. Fervently believe in God. With him nothing is impossible! Happiness is like a remote control, we lose it every time, we go crazy looking for it and many times without knowing it, we are sitting on top of it.
I totally agree with this. I’m a self-help guy. I am a do-it-yourself man. But at the end of the day, I still recognize that I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.
I’ve been in the business for nearly two decades and I’m still young. With that amount of experience, you might think that I know how to handle all undesirable situations in life already especially in those moments when you want to throw some karate chops in someone else’s neck. The truth of the matter is that I’ve come this far because of God’s grace.
What’s God’s grace? It’s the gift of faith and wisdom that you can make all things manageable and possible in Christ.
Last night, I listened to a YouTube video about the 10 things that successful people do. It says that most successful people are atheists. Well, I don’t know if that’s true or not. I’ll update this blog once I get the chance to rub elbows with Forbes’ top 20 richest people. I’ll ask them one by one. But whether it’s true or not, I don’t want to join the team of successful atheists.
So those are the 14 tips of Harvard Professor Ben Shahar on how to have a positive psychology.
How many of these habits have you already been doing? I scored 13 out of 14. I need to go out and meet more people in person so I can flex my facial muscles through smiles more often.
What’s your score? Which ones have you already been doing? Which ones are you going to start doing? Let me know in the comments.