Davidson works to find connections between the brain and our happiness, and his research has shown that we can intentionally change our brain and learn to be happier. Davidson explains:
“By focusing on wholesome thoughts, for example, and directing our intentions in those ways, we can potentially influence the plasticity of our brains and shape them in ways that can be beneficial.”
The 5-3-1 Practice
One method for learning to be happier that Davidson and his colleagues at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) recommend are three daily tasks that are simple, easy, and rewarding.
1. Start with five minutes of meditation every day.
This can help you go into your work day feeling more energized, relaxed, and ready to tackle the day. Shilagh Mirgain, a senior psychologist at CIHM and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, mentions that people who did this kind of practice for 20 minutes a day for approximately 30 days had gained new gray matter in their prefrontal cortex, which is the area associated with attention, emotion regulation, and executive decision-making.
2. Make a list of three good things that happened in your day.
They can be anything from a really good cup of coffee or a compliment from your boss. By listing good things in your day, you are focusing on the positive aspects of your work, which can help you feel happier.
3. Perform one random act of kindness.
Not only is this step helpful in making you feel happier and more rewarded at work, but also gives someone else a hand and a smile to cheer up their day.