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Shawn Achor’s 6 Daily Happiness Exercises

Need a boost of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins — neurotransmitters that drive positive emotions and energy in your brain? We’ve got six daily happiness exercises for you and your team. Leaders who accentuate the positive and encourage employees to practice well-being strategies will have stronger teams and better organizational outcomes.

Try out six daily exercises from Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage. They are proven to improve mood and increase mental health during uncertain times. Because we each have a choice in how we show up each day, being intentional about mindfulness, positive psychology, and well-being can increase employee engagement and productivity.

According to an interview with Achor in Forbes, “Happiness is not the belief that everything is great; happiness is the belief that change is possible. In Before Happiness, Achor defines happiness as “the joy one feels striving for one’s potential.” Small mental victories, especially during rough times, are a matter of intentionality.

Achor explores a different way of thinking and creating happiness. Rebuking traditional thinking that success or accomplishment creates happiness, he flips the narrative. He posits that happiness drives performance. If we exercise our minds, we can become more positive. It turns out that a positive mindset makes us happier and more successful.

1. Gratitude Exercises

Write down three things you are grateful for over the last 24 hours. They don’t have to be profound. It could be a really good cup of coffee, the warmth of a sunny day, or collaboration with a colleague. The focus of this exercise is to look for the good. During hard times, look for the helpers.

Gratitude exercise graphic

2. The Daily Happiness Doubler

Reflect on one positive experience from the past 24 hours, and spend two minutes writing down every detail about that experience. As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint. Doing so creates a double dose of the experience and a double dose of daily happiness.

The Doubler graphic

3. The Fun Fifteen

Every day, do 15 minutes of fun cardio activity, like dancing, gardening, or walking the dog. The effects of daily cardio can be as effective as taking an antidepressant.The fun fifteen graphic

4. Meditation

Take two minutes to stop whatever you’re doing and concentrate on breathing. This is especially effective before starting a project, meeting, or important conversation. Even a short, mindful break can result in a calmer, happier you.Meditation graphic

5. Conscious Act of Kindness

At the start or end of every day, send a short email or text praising someone you know. Our brains become addicted to feeling good by making others feel good. This habit is especially helpful for strengthening relationships and enhancing teamwork.

Conscious act of kindness graphic

6. Deepen Social Connections

Spend time with family and friends. Social connections are among the best predictors of success, health, and even life expectancy. Whether it’s a larger, high-energy crowd or a small circle of friends, the adage ‘people who need people are the luckiest people in the world’ is true.Deepen connection graphic


Bonus tip: Stay hydrated. Start your morning with two big glasses of water to hydrate and refresh your brain. Stay hydrated throughout the day to promote cognition and well-being.

Add these simple daily exercises to your daily routine. Challenge yourself and share with your friends and family. Spread health and happiness!

If you enjoyed these 6 daily happiness exercises, we recommend reading Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage or his latest book, Big Potential.


Published on: April 1, 2022