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I’ve decided to start this year off with a 21-day happiness challenge. It goes like this: you pick one of five researched habits and try it for 21 days in a row to create a positive habit. Doing so actually rewires – or trains – your brain to be more positive. Here are the five habits to choose from:

  1. Three Gratitudes: Pause to take note of three new things each day that you are grateful for. Doing so will help your brain start to retrain its pattern of scanning the world, looking not just for the negative inputs but for the positive ones.
  2. Journaling: Similar to the gratitude practice, but in this case, detail — in writing — one positive experience each day. This will help you find meaning in the activities of the day, rather than just noticing the task itself.
  3. Exercise: Exercising for 10 minutes a day not only brings physical benefits, but it also teaches your brain to believe your behavior matters, which then carries (positively) into other activities throughout the day.
  4. Meditation: Take just two minutes per day to simply breathe and focus on your breath going in and out. Doing so will train your mind to focus, reduce stress, and help you be more present in this moment.
  5. Random Acts of Kindness: This can be something simple, and Shawn suggests writing one positive email to praise or thank someone each day. Not only does it benefit the recipient, but it also increases your feeling of social support.

As Shawn Achor , author of The Happiness Advantage, writes, “Gratitude, focusing on positive experiences, exercise, meditating, and random acts of kindness are all ways to change the pattern through which your brain views work.” If we can bring more positivity into the present moment, our brain experiences a “happiness advantage,” based on the finding that “your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed.”

For my 21 days I’ve chosen to name three things I am grateful for. I’ll post them on my Facebook page so that everyone can help keep me to the task! You’re welcome to comment or post your own gratitude with mine. Here’s to a healthier & happier 2018.

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