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5 Techniques to Stop Overthinking Now!

5 Techniques to Stop Overthinking Now!

Every organ in our body has a specific function which warrants its existence. The mind is no different with its main purpose being to think, process and understand. It will think about things that are relevant and important to us and will equally consider trivial, mindless things. Its full-time job is to think, but that doesn’t mean that all the thoughts we have are valuable to us and warrant attention. We need to use self-awareness to distinguish between the thoughts that are helpful and motivating for us to move in a positive direction, versus those that swirl around aimlessly in our mind resulting in an endless sense of worry, and a repetitive loop anxiety.

 

Rumination and Reflection

The two self-awareness types described are called reflection and rumination, and they discern the quality and quantity of our thoughts. Reflection and rumination both originate from the same internal source of self-focus; however, they are different in terms of their intention. Rumination is a self-focused perception of the threats to your life; loss, regret, unfair social comparison, or unpacking injustice. It is laden with an undertone of psychological distress, anxiety and endless worry. In contrast, reflection is a curious, open-minded and non-judgemental observation of self (Trapnell and Campbell, 1999). In both cases, our mind is doing its work of contemplating, but the outcome is completely different.

We all know that from self-preservation and societal influence our minds are programmed to look for the negative in all aspects of our life, this means our minds will naturally spend more energy and attention on rumination than on non-judgemental reflection. But is ruminating beneficial to us?

If you are ruminating to understand a past disappointment, frustration or angry moment, it serves you for a certain time but generally once we start to ruminate we can’t stop which results in us overthinking and isolating ourselves. What follows is a vicious, negative downward spiral. Overthinking doesn’t solve any problems. In actual fact, quite the contrary happens – it worsens the situation, makes you miserable, hampers your decision-making ability, impairs your concentration, and drains your energy. It certainly won’t bring out the best in you.

 

 Making the Shift from Rumination

When you are in the vortex of rumination, you feel pushed and pulled in all directions and you will need to become self-aware that only you have the autonomy to halt the process and step away from it. As a starting point, give yourself permission to stop overthinking things, shift to a more reflective mind-set, and work out how you can think about these ruminating thoughts in a positive light.

I am going to share various techniques to stop ruminating. Try one and see if it resonates with you; if it doesn’t, move on and experiment with another one until you find your personal fit.

We all ruminate in our lives but having techniques will assist you to move out of the overthinking space faster to a place of reflection and balance.

 

 

The Five Techniques to Stop Overthinking:

     

  1. Self-Compassion:
    Shift your relationship with yourself to a kind and loving one that is non-judgemental or self-critical. Observe a situation as if you were your loving best friend and then become curious about what you are learning about yourself and what opportunity appears in front of you. Embrace failure, disappointment and inadequacies as opportunities to grow and develop and not to be critical of your shortcomings. Ask yourself questions such as: what could this situation mean; what can I learn from this experience; what opportunity presents itself here; and what strengths can I develop as a result of the situation?

 

  1. Put it into Perspective:
    Learn to sit back and see the situation from a bigger picture viewpoint and ask yourself if this event will matter in a years’ time or even a months’ time. If it is unlikely to have such a lasting impact, then rephrase and reframe your thoughts to: “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and “this too shall pass”. But if the answer is yes, then shift into reflection mode and become curious and open-minded to determine what you have control over to make it a positive outcome.

 

  1. Loving-Kindness Meditation:
    This is a type of meditation where you consciously send love, blessings and kindness to yourself. Use short periods of five to ten minutes where you go inwards and repeat these three phrases: May I be safe, may I be healthy, may I be happy, may I be at peace. Each time you repeat the phrase, you go deeper and really feel the power of the words in your body, in your heart and in your mind. The meditation is extremely powerful and will calm you, increase self-compassion and decrease overthinking.

 

  1. Time Out:
    Give yourself a set time, such as half an hour, to ruminate. You now have official permission to ruminate without feeling guilty. Set a timer and once the time is up you have to stop and engage in something completely different, preferably something fun such as listening to and singing your favourite song, doing a sweaty cardio workout or watching a comedy show.

 

  1. Reframing your language:
    During moments of rumination, we are extremely self-critical and may be using harsh, negative language. We are unlikely to speak to others in the same way but tend to be our most mean and unforgiving to ourselves. A powerful first step in breaking this chain is to become mindful of the negative language and thoughts you use towards yourself. Thereafter, rephrase the language as if you are communicating with a dear friend and apply that to yourself. Pay attention to your tone of voice and how you would like to talk to yourself in the future.

 
Ruminating is a natural phenomenon that we are wired to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for us, in large doses. Through continuous self-awareness and discernment of the quality of your thoughts, you can assess if your thoughts are serving you or not. If not, you are likely overthinking things and mainly living in your head. If you bring in a combination of reflection and the techniques described above, you will have the practical tools to transform your thoughts into positive ones and experience a much lighter and easier life.

In the words of John Milton:

The mind is its own place, and it itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

 

Reference

Trapnell, P., & Campbell, J. (1999). Private self-consciousness and the five-factor model of personality: Distinguising rumination from reflection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 284-304.

The “just fine” Culture and Our 5-Step Strategy to Combat it

The “just fine” Culture and Our 5-Step Strategy to Combat it

We have all experienced it.

A lack of energy, fatigue, pain, fever, and the inability to get our brains to work effectively. Yet we still we go on, pretending that everything is alright… until it’s not.

“I’m fine…”

This is one of the biggest lies we tell each other, and we do it so many times every day that we’ve probably lost count. We say it to complete strangers, our work colleagues, our bosses, and even our family and friends. But why do we do this, and what implications does it have on our well-being in the long run? Perhaps if we are aware of these, then having a 5-step strategy to combat its effects is just what we need to move from alright to absolutely awesome.

Our Perception of Illness

While we are becoming more aware of the holistic nature of illness and disease, the common perception is that illness is primarily physical. We need to see someone’s illness on the outside of their body to understand it and to empathise with them. For centuries, we have made huge developments in the field of medicine and healthcare; however, in daily life people still understand illness visually and we tend to be less sympathetic to “invisible” illnesses. Even more so those that can be categorised as psychosomatic or “all in your head”. Think about it, how do you react to someone with a broken arm versus someone who admits they suffer from depression?

Basic Instincts

We may think we have progressed, but in fact our instincts still run a lot of our lives – including our response to illness. We want to be healthy and strong because it’s good for us, but also because on an instinctual level it makes us more likely to reproduce and continue the line of strong offspring who will keep the good genes going. We focus on looking, acting and being strong and attractive, and illness – well that’s not part of the package. So, as we move out of the accepted childhood “booboos”, we become gradually more intolerant of illness, pain and disease (in ourselves and others) because on some level it shows weakness and vulnerability. Of course, this has created the “just fine” culture, where we would rather suffer in silence than admit illness to others. You might think this is farfetched, but how many people at your work have admitted to depression? And perhaps just as importantly, how would you feel about them if they did?

 

1 in 4 South Africans has been diagnosed with depression, while 80% continue to work, not disclosing their illness to work colleagues. – South African Depression and Anxiety Group

It’s a “just fine” Culture

We live in a cognitive world where technology mediates our activities and disconnects us from the bodies that house these minds. We seem to value mental efforts more than those of the physical – look at the salary of a stockbroker versus that of a plumber. And yet this has not eradicated illness; in fact, perhaps it has made us more susceptible, as we are numbed to the warning signs our bodies give us. Until we can’t anymore.

 

The gut contains over 100 million neurons and “up to 90% of the cells involved in [stress] responses carry information to the brain rather than receiving messages from it, making your gut as influential to your mood as your head is. Maybe even more.” – Psychology Today

 

In advertisements, we are sold the high life – the life that less than 2% of the world’s population experience. The truth is that most of us are living in a “just fine” culture, where “getting on with it” and “doing a good enough job” is the reality of our daily lives. And while most of us put a lot of effort to fitting in, moving forward and being better, we have numbed our awareness of our bodies. When things don’t feel right, we just drug ourselves to forget the pain but our bodies are trying to tell us something and we are ignoring the messages.

When we say we are “just fine” and we aren’t, we put our relationships on the line. At work, people expect a certain standard and if you are fine, then why are you not meeting expectations? This can affect your performance reviews as well as your job security. And at home there can be a loss of trust, because when you get a long-term illness because you didn’t pay attention to the warning signs, your family and friends will feel let down and shut out.

So, as you can see, here are some of the reasons (and there are many more) why we find ourselves in the “just fine” culture and some of the repercussions of doing so. So what can we do about it?

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmary.” -The World Health Organization

 

 

Our 5-Step Strategy to Combat the “just fine” Blues

It may sound very negative to start by encouraging you to say that you’re not ok, but in fact, all we’re recommending is to admit how you actually feel.

Here is our 5-step strategy to combat the impacts of being “just fine”:

 

1. Be Mindful

At least once a day take a minute or two to notice what is happening in your body and mind and do a non-judgemental assessment. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling today?”.

 

2. Self-Compassionate Breaths

We are often our harshest critics and it is the voice in our own heads that we need to combat. Before you jump out of bed in the morning, take four deep breaths and notice how you feel. Make a note of how you could ease any illness or discomfort in the way you go about your day.

 

3. Communicate Honestly

You don’t have to talk forever about your aching toe (no one likes that), but when people ask you, “how are you?” scan your body and your mind and be honest. The person will most likely be surprised by your response, but you are being truthful and in turn you are also helping to break the cycle of “just fine” for those around you.

 

4. Take Action

If you are taking the steps above, you will begin to notice more in your body and mind. If you notice pain, discomfort, irregularities or prolonged unpleasant sensations/thoughts, then get help. Consult with a colleague to assist on a project or go to see a doctor or specialist. Don’t wait for the long-term consequences to kick in. Get help and then you can carry on.

 

5. Rest

It may seem the simplest advice in the world, but if it was that simple we wouldn’t have such a rise in stress-related conditions. We need to break the cycle of presenteeism, of showing up, of being self-destructive and of being a liability to those around us for fear of looking weak. If we can learn to own, admit and accept our vulnerable human form, we are bound to recover faster and come back with more vitality, vigour and capability. And what company wouldn’t want more of that!

In Conclusion

4Seeds specialises in the use of Applied Positive Psychology, a fundamental foundation of which is to experience the negative as well as the positive, fully. Of course, we don’t want to emphasise the negative, but rather to accept that we are not machines. As we like to say, “we are not perfect machines always functioning at our peak, we are human, just human”.

Are You Flourishing? 6 Components of Living The Best Life

Are You Flourishing? 6 Components of Living The Best Life

I was recently invited to a birthday party by a friend. She had chosen a handful of people from diverse areas of her life with whom she shared meaningful and deep connections. No one knew each other, and as these kinds of conversations go, everybody shared what work they do. When it was my turn, I said that I was a Positive Psychology Practitioner.

The blank stares I received didn’t surprise me, so I explained that I help people to flourish and achieve their optimal potential in their life. This stirred up a debate which continued for the rest of the evening.

The gentleman sitting opposite me was an accountant and I asked him if he thought that he was flourishing in life or languishing. He said that he wasn’t sure as he didn’t know what it meant to flourish. On the way home, I realised that many people would have answered the same way.

That evening led me to write this article on the six items that make up flourishing. The state where people experience a high level of emotional, psychological and social well-being. When people feel well and function optimally, this is flourishing.

 

Positive Psychology: A New Perspective to Health

To start, let me take a slight detour and explain the term Mental Health. In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (World Health Organization, 1948, pg. 28). Unfortunately, since 1948 the word ‘health’ has come to be associated with disease, disability, and mental illness.

In the past 60 years, there has been a strong focus on the medical model of diseases and how to cure them. This perspective has often partially, if not completely, omitted the holistic understanding of human health, encompassing psychological, emotional and social well-being. This means that, until recently, we had forgotten to look at what works well in human beings and how to enhance human potential to thrive. The factors that allow us to achieve, succeed and feel satisfaction are still being learnt and understood. The science of Positive Psychology changed this perspective and provided the platform for the plethora of research which supports the understanding of makes humans thrive.

 

What Does Flourishing Mean? 

So now that you have a background of the Positive Psychology perspective on health, we are ready to dive into the concept of flourishing. The Encyclopaedia of Positive Psychology, defines flourishing as a positive mental state and a self-transcending phase which allows a person to prosper and grow beyond themselves in pursuit of meaningful actions and relationships. This also allows them to experience positive emotional vitality and to function well in all areas of their lives (Michalec et. al.,2 2009).

Sadly, only 18% of adults are flourishing according to the criteria, with 65% having modest mental health and as much as 17% of people are languishing. People need psychological, emotional and social well-being in order to flourish and sadly there is the incorrect assumption that being mentally healthy means the person is flourishing. However, the opposite is in fact true.

Most adults just function in their personal and professional lives when they have the capacity to be so much more than they are right now. They face the challenge of not knowing how to practically shift from being OK to being awesome.

You may be wondering why such emphasis is placed on flourishing and why it isn’t OK to languish. The many benefits of flourishing will convince you: 

  • Higher academic achievements,
  • Increased creativity,
  • Goal setting mastery skills,
  • Higher levels of self-control and
  • Perseverance
  • Enhanced self-efficacy, and
  • Mindfulness

In a nutshell, the experience of flourishing is about positive human functioning. And who doesn’t want more of that?

The Six Components of Flourishing

Flourishing comprises of these six basic components. Read through the list and see which ones apply to you every day, and which are less frequent in your life. From here you will be able to make a more informed judgement about how much you are flourishing in life and you can then start your process of moving towards a life filled with more satisfaction and vigor.

 

  1. Self-acceptance is the acknowledgement of all parts of your personality. Liking and accepting yourself, including your best and worst qualities. Self-acceptance is about having a positive attitude and using positive language with yourself. It’s also about being kind and patient with yourself which includes feeling positive about your past and present life.
  2. Personal growth is actively challenging yourself to become a better version of yourself on a regular basis. It’s about continuously developing and improving your knowledge by engaging in activities that contribute to society’s well-being.
  3. Personal life is linked to experiencing a life that has direction, meaning and purpose through pursuing goals that are important and valued by you. It’s a feeling that you belong and are worthy in the community and the world.
  4. Environmental mastery is making sense of what is going on around you and effectively exploring opportunities that come your way. It’s about feeling a sense of control of the complex external environment around you.
  5. Autonomy is the independence to manage, think, express and apply your ideas, even when you’re under social pressure. It’s about being self-determined and regulating your behaviour to be aligned with your internal standards and values.
  6. Positive relations are about creating trusting, warm and loving relationships with others. It means being kind, courteous, empathetic and helpful to strangers and equally upholding positive, intimate, fulfilling relations with loved ones. It’s also about accepting other people’s diverse opinions and ideas without judgement.

 

Now that you know what the six components are that lead to flourishing, you can hopefully identify one or two that you want to develop. It needs to be noted that it isn’t good enough to flourish here and there as that doesn’t drive optimal human functioning. To thrive and achieve your potential that you are destined to, you need to flourish on most of the time.

Besides reaching your potential, flourishing has an added benefit of reducing the psychological wear and tear your daily life has on you. Flourishing serves as a protective buffer against depression, psychological illness, stress, low immunity and cardiovascular disease as well as having many other benefits. In this busy day and age, working on increasing your flourishing components is not a nice-to-have, but a must-have if you want to experience a fulfilling and satisfying life.

3 Activities to Start Flourishing

In closing I would like to leave you with three activities to kick-start your flourishing development:

Firstly, have a positive attitude towards everyone you meet. Acknowledge them for what they bring to your life and openly show appreciation. Go out of your way to thank people or perform random acts of kindness.

Secondly, enrol in a new learning activity be it a short course, a weekend workshop, or read a thought-provoking book.

Thirdly, accept yourself for who you are. At the end of the day jot down the strengths that you used during the day. And if you haven’t done so yet, take the Flourishing Scale Assessment below.

Remember you have every right to flourish and be the very best version of yourself. All you need to do is reach out and claim it.

 


Flourishing Scale (Diener et al., 2009)

Directions

Below are eight statements which you may agree or disagree with. Indicate your response to each statement using the 1 to 7 scale below.

7 = strongly agree

6 = agree

5 = slightly agree

4 = mixed or neither agree or disagree

3 = slightly disagree

2 = disagree

1 = strongly disagree

_______ 1. I lead a purposeful and meaningful life.

_______ 2. My social relationships are supportive and rewarding.

_______ 3. I am engaged and interested in my daily activities.

_______ 4. I actively contribute to the happiness and well-being of others.

_______ 5. I am competent and capable in the activities that are important to me.

_______ 6. I am a good person and live a good life.

_______ 7. I am optimistic about my future.

_______ 8. People respect me.

Scoring

Add the responses, varying from 1 to 7, for all eight items.

Interpretation

The possible range of scores is from 8 (lowest possible) to 56 (highest possible). A high score represents a person with many psychological resources and strengths.

 

Set yourself up for success with your own Personal Balanced Scorecard

Set yourself up for success with your own Personal Balanced Scorecard

The holiday season is over, and our lives are slowly getting back to normal in terms of our daily routines. Over the last few weeks you may have given your body and mind a well-deserved break and will be getting ready to embrace the year with renewed energy and optimism. Setting New Year’s resolutions seems to be an outdated ritual and no longer in fashion, but the philosophy behind it remains: the concept of self-reflection where one reviews, re-assesses and evaluates the past year. Everyone will use their own method to work out if the past year was great, mediocre, or a not too great, thank goodness it’s over year.

After we have evaluated the past year, we can shift our attention and look forward to the upcoming year; being curious what the stars have in store for us. We might daydream about where we want to be at the end of this year, or we may be crystal clear on the goals we wish to attain. Most often, our annual evaluation highlights for us what we want to achieve, what we want or even need to let go of, and what we want to start with, replacing negative habits with positive healthy ones being a common goal that we strive for. Somehow, that language has a negative energy and seems as if we have to give up something to gain something. Perhaps it’s the combination of wishful thinking, not setting clear goals and sacrificing something that results in New Year’s resolutions being overrated and failing dismally.

But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water as the concept of evaluation, assessment and setting new goals is a powerful and necessary step for personal growth and development. What if we try it with a more abundant, comprehensive and guaranteed for success approach, such as designing your own Personal Balanced Scorecard? You may be wondering what a Personal Balanced Scorecard is, and why you have never heard of it before. It’s quite simple: the Scorecard has its origins in the business world and only found its way into our personal lives in the last few years. It was initially developed in the early 1990s by Dr Robert S Kaplan and Dr David P Norton with the intention of measuring an organisation’s progress towards its business goals and vision. The framework comprises of a mixture of financial and non-financial performance business goals. Data is collected and scored to determine progress, targets met and deviations. It sounds technically complicated and corporate, but through its personal adaptation to fit and suit our busy lives it has become a very practical and handy method to ensure that you balance your life with all other important domains such as work, family, health, leisure, and travel, etc.

You can design your own Personal Balanced Scorecard and make it simple and easy to use or more fancy and advanced. This will help you to keep focused on the progress of the goals you have set for yourself. The power of the tool is that you receive a visual tool that tracks whether you are on track, lagging behind or totally off course; this realisation will make you quickly reassess, re-evaluate and take action. You can customise how often you want to re-evaluate your progress, either monthly quarterly or six-monthly. Remember it’s your Scorecard and you can make it work for you.

Where to start

Begin by defining and articulating your personal ambition and aspirations, including all areas of your life. You can regard it as your personal balanced life plan which would map out your ideal life for the next 12 months. If you like, you can stretch it to a three- or even five-year life plan. Putting it into small, medium and long-term goals is always a recommended approach.

Write down all the areas in your life that matter to you (work, family, friendships, health and fitness, and finances, etc.). Add the areas in your life that are meaningful and valuable to you. This is a very important point because only if you truly value and find meaning in the domain will you be motivated enough to sustain it with energy and vigour, even when things are not going too well.

What’s next?

Score each domain as you see it right now out of 10. As an example, I would say that I am about a 7,5 with regard to my overall health. Then ask yourself if you are satisfied with this level and if your answer is yes then move on to the next one. If the answer is no, then state what your ideal score would be, so in my case it would be a 9. Think of about three activities that will bring you closer to your ideal goal. Make these tangible and measurable and establish regular dates when you will check-in on how your progress is going.

How to maintain this

Ensure that your goal is broken down into bite size chunks. We tend to be over-optimistic setting ourselves challenges that are too big and then get demotivated when we don’t reach them. Remember that slow and steady usually wins the race. It’s natural for us to have moments where our motivation dips and we question if we can sustain the journey of change to attain our desired goal. Choose people or groups that can support and motivate you in these times. It’s easy to give up, but it’s not easy to persevere. You can also use a professional coach to be your champion throughout the change process.

Today is a great day to invest in your personal development. Regardless of whether you have or haven’t set your 2018 goals yet by using the Personal Balanced Scorecard, you will know exactly what and how to go about reaching your success. If you need support in ensuring your goals become reality and not another dream, drop us an email at info@4seeds.co.za to schedule your consultation. Click here to download a FREE sample of a Personal Balanced Scorecard.

Gratitude: What it is and what it isn’t

Gratitude: What it is and what it isn’t

Society holds gratitude in high esteem. Everyone wants to be more grateful which is a desirable human characteristic, however few of us actually are. Gratitude is about acknowledging that we have received something from someone else that we value and appreciate. The purpose of being grateful is to make life better for ourselves and others and to overcome the human tendency to take things, people or situations for granted. We shouldn’t feel entitled to the benefits, or to resent others for their benefits and nor to take credit for our own success. There were always others involved but supported, guided and believed in us.

But why do we struggle so much with this hugely inspiring characteristic? Gratitude doesn’t come naturally for most of us, whereas resentment and entitlement do. Gratitude is a virtue, which means that it needs to be taught, modelled, and regularly practiced until it becomes an automatic habit.

To complicate matters, gratitude has been identified as a trait (hereditary pre-disposition), an emotion and a mood. It starts off as an emotional reaction of feeling thankful and recognising the contribution others have made to our life and well-being. It then develops into a mood of a subtle, longer-duration of conscious state and ends as a permeable character trait.

There are multiple benefits to enhancing our level of gratitude:

  1. Promotes optimal functioning
  2. Promotes feelings of empathy, forgiveness and helping others
  3. Facilitates coping with stress and loss
  4. Reduces upward social comparison that often results in envy and resentment
  5. Reduces materialistic striving
  6. Improves self-esteem
  7. Allows us to savour positive and pleasant memories
  8. Builds social resources
  9. Motivates moral and ethical behaviour
  10. Fosters goal attainment
  11. Promotes physical health
  12. Increases one’s spirituality

 

After reading those powerful benefits, I am certain you are excited to learn and grow your gratitude levels. Here are some ideas on how to do exactly that:

  1. If you enjoy journaling, this one is for you! Take five minutes at the start or end of your day where you write down what you are grateful for. It can cover a wide range of things from the mundane to the magnificent. However, vary it and challenge yourself to look for new gratitude nuggets.
  2. Express gratitude directly to another person. Write to them or tell them directly what you appreciate about them as a person or what they did for you. Expect some tears with this one!
  3. Take note of an ungrateful thought that popped into your head and consciously reframe it to a positive thought. This takes some practice in catching the thought.

 

Whichever idea you use, remain curious and open-minded. If one suggestion doesn’t work, swop it for another one. Experiment and play with this. Keep it varying and fresh. As the year draws to an end it’s the ideal time to reflect and express gratitude to the people who have supported you through the year.

Have fun and spread gratitude!

 

 

References: Chapter 16 – R.A. Emmons & A. Mishia pg. 248-262 Watkins

The Science behind Acts of Giving

The Science behind Acts of Giving

Recently, a phenomenon called Acts of Giving has been popping up all over the media. It’s even more noticeable over the festive season when we are urged to give more to others. However, being kind and giving to others has a direct impact on our own happiness levels and not just for the person we are giving to. In fact, if done well, the giver has many benefits that can last a couple of days. It’s a virtuous circle where giving to others raises our happiness level and happier people help others more. Evidence shows that givers are more satisfied with life, feel more competent, have a greater sense of meaning and usually a more positive mood.

What does it mean to give to others?

It means giving without expecting anything in return. It’s an act that requires thought and attention and we give because we care. The Act of Giving does not need to be money-based, but can be something as simple as being kind to someone, letting someone in front of the queue if they’re in a rush, listening to them, cutting colleagues slack when they are going through a hard time, giving a compliment, visiting a lonely or sick person, or carrying someone’s bag. You’re getting the gist.

You may be wondering… if Acts of Giving provide such mega-benefits to the giver, then can that not be regarded as being selfish or even altruistic? Adam Grant, a professor at Wharton Business School, identified two types of giving; selfless-givers and other-ish givers. The selfless-giver has a high interest in other people’s well-being and little interest in deriving their own benefit. The other-ish giver scores high on both counts; the other person and themselves. They have found a healthy balance of accepting kindness and giving it to others.

That being said, not all giving raises our happiness. If it is expected and not done out of our own free will or we feel socially obliged, then it is apparent that we give reluctantly and even with a degree of resentment. This will definitely not raise our happiness, but rather deplete it.

Three factors must be present for you to get an ultra-happiness boost:

  1. Connect – the act must increase your connection with the person; it must also be an act that you personally value
  2. Control – it must be done voluntarily and out of your own free will
  3. Impact – the act of giving should make an impactful and meaningful difference to the other person

You might be thinking that this giving stuff is all well and good, but you just don’t have the time. The Act of Giving can be a super-quick five-minute activity and doesn’t have to be long-winded.

Try these five-minute Acts of Giving

  • Return someone’s call
  • Connect them to someone who can assist them
  • Make a person smile
  • Pay for a stranger’s coffee or parking ticket
  • Assist a person who is lost
  • Offer change to someone who is struggling to find the right amount
  • Let another car in if they find themselves in the wrong lane
  • Push an elderly person’s grocery trolley
  • Say thank you when being served
  • Stop what you are doing and listen attentively to someone

Giving to others increases our psychological and physical well-being. It makes us happier and allows us to ask for help when we need it. Pay it forward!

 

References:

Aknin, L., Dunn, E., & Norton, M. (2011). Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion: Evidence for positive feedback loop between pro-social spending and happiness Studies. 13(2), 347-355.

King, V. (2016). 10 Keys to Happier Living. London: Headline Publishing Group.