Episode 150: The Happiness Guru Is In:
Interview with Andy Proctor
Who doesn’t want to be happy? When you ask someone what they want in life, the most common answer is “to be happy.” Often the idea of happiness is considered one of chance, luck, or the blessed, but the truth is that your happiness depends only upon the story you create in your own mind about your life. Today’s guest is a certified positive psychology practitioner who has been teaching the science of human flourishing to mass media audiences for the past 5 years. He is the host of the More Happy Life podcast and has been featured in The New York Times, ABC News, Fox Business and many other national publications. He is currently on the board of TEDxBYU and is the director of the 1000 Words speaker series.
Stay tuned for a 5 Tools for creating your own happiness and Andy Proctor’s story of how he found his way to the happiness path.
We are here to thrive, not just to endure. It’s true that difficult things will happen in each of our lives. We’ll all have those dragons to fight and dark swamps to cross….it’s how we earn the magic elixir of learning and strength, but our ability to bounce back from the battles is, in the words of Andy Proctor, “One of the most important life skills we can develop.”
Andy, welcome to the LYS podcast.
So, you are the happiness guy. First and foremost we like a good story on this podcast, so can we head right into your story? What events in your life took place that placed your feet on the path of figuring out how to create happy?
Tune in to the audio program to hear Andy’s story.
What tools have you used that have had the greatest impact in your own personal life?
- Some of the tools Andy mentions:
- Morning Dance Party – I dance on my trampoline almost every day. This is in an effort to develop my strength of zest. I put my earbuds in and turn on awesome music that makes me want to dance and I imagine I am the life of the party or that I’m on stage dancing in front of a stadium of cheering fans. This generates dopamine and serotonin in my brain as well as helping me to boost BDNF levels that are like “miracle grow” for the brain. A lot of my ideas for my day come while I’m dancing. Not always, but sometimes. I do at least 3 songs. Also, rebounding for 3 minutes boosts your immune system by up to 300%. So that’s also great.
- Write a Letter To Yourself – I recently heard a speech by Stuart Edge where he talked about writing a letter to himself asking for advice. I thought this was so powerful so I decided to try it. On a day when I was having a rough time, I decided to write a letter to my future self (64-year-old Andy). I asked for help in dealing with some of the issues I’m trying to figure out in my life. About a week later when I was sitting quietly, I felt like my future self was trying to write back, but I was too tired to write so I went to bed and had a dream of my future life. I woke up the next morning inspired and wrote a letter back from my future self giving me advice and encouragement. There are tons of benefits to doing this. Mindfulness. Trusting your intuition. Writing can improve your mode and be a catalyst for faster healing, and better overall quality of life.
- Magic Wand Activity – if you had a magic wand what would you change about the world? List at least five things or as many as you can. Then write what you can do to be a part of that change during your lifetime. List as many as you can. This activity was something I found from the Stanford Greater Good Science Center to increase purpose. It really helped me to zero in on what I thought needed to happen to make the world a better place and I found real things (which I have since done) to make a dent within my sphere of influence. (working on a new anti-loneliness project, creating a course for those who struggle with their faith, etc.) Victor Frankl said “those who have a why to live can bear with almost any “how”
- Friendship Wall – One of the things that has helped me to decrease my own loneliness and increase my happiness has been creating what I call a friendship wall. We take pictures in our phones, but how often do we pull up our albums and look at them in our phones to remember those great moments with the people we are close to? So I used an app called freeprints to print off pictures of people I love and hang them on my wall. Then I look at my wall every day and it helps remind me that I am not alone and it makes me want to reach out to my good friends more often. And I do, and it helps.
- What went well? – This helps you to train your brain to focus on the things that go well during your day. At the end of each day write down three things that went well during the last 24 hours. Studies show that if you do this for 8 weeks every day, you literally rewire your brain. We are all born with the negativity bias. Our brains are wired to focus on possible threats and we focus more on the things that are negative than the things that are positive. Even though more positive things happen than negative, it takes almost three times as many positive things to make up for the negative things that happen. This is why writing down what went well can have an impact on us.
When we hit those rough patches it doesn’t feel like we’re in charge of our own happiness. Often it feels like an emotion controls us, or another person’s actions have plummeted us into despair or discouragement, or even apathy. But happiness is just like anything else worthwhile. It takes some effort to create positive mindsets and habits, but WE ARE completely in charge of the story we are writing and whether it’s a tragedy, a comedy, or drama. Thanks to Andy for sharing his insights – I hope you found even just one nugget of wisdom to take into your way of being for a good strong trial run. BE HAPPY my friends – This is what finding joy in your journey looks like. Decide to put on the rosy glasses, the dance shoes, and a focus on flowers rather than weeks.
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See you next week. Get out there and do some intentional living!