David R Hamilton reveals how you get happier and more confident without doing anything
There’s lots of advice out there about how to improve our happiness. Some of it is great advice, but most of it rests on having to do something different or change in some way. This hack is not like that. Rather than do something different, instead just notice what you already do. Yes! There’s no doing at all for this month’s exercise in fact – except for keeping a note of your normal behaviour.
This life hack is based on research in which a group of over 100 women were asked to keep a diary of all the things they said and did for a month that were kind or friendly. For example, if they paid someone a compliment, they would note that down; or if they held a door for someone, they wrote that down, too. If they were friendly to someone, bought someone a gift, or helped a friend, work colleague or family member in some way, they would note these actions down each time.
The women involved in the experiment weren’t asked to do any particular acts of kindness, but simply notice the things they already do. That was key. The results were amazing – almost all of the women in the study were happier after the month of self-analysis than before they started. And about a third of the women weren’t just happier, but according to the scientists, they were ‘much happier’.
Part of the reason for this is because by noticing the kind things that you already do, it makes you realise that you are a much better person than you thought you were, and that you make more of a difference in people’s lives than you thought you did.
In effect, this hack even boosts self-esteem and makes you feel good about all the positive things you are doing in the world.
Now try this… self-analyse!
• When keeping notes about yourself and your behaviour, you can use a notebook or even use a ‘notes’ app on your phone. Some people prefer to get a nice new notebook with a nice cover that feels good. Whatever you prefer will be perfectly fine, it’s whichever you feel most comfortable with using.
• Create a new page for each day, as this makes it clearer. Starting today, keep a note of everything that you do that you’d count as kind. Sometimes, you’ll be able to make a note right away, but at other times you may not have the chance. Do it as soon as you can. At the end of the month, read through everything you did.
Top tip: Rate your happiness level on a one to 10 scale when you start this hack, and then again at the end of the month
David is the author of eight books on how the mind influences the body, and is a full-time writer and speaker. He has a PhD in chemistry and formerly spent four years in the pharmaceutical industry. He left to teach others about the power of the mind in healing after being inspired by the placebo effect. drdavidhamilton.com