Being happy can be learned, according to American-Israeli academic Tal Ben-Shahar. He offers to train with the Spire method.
It is neither rewards nor material success or prestige that allow us to feel the state of fullness. It is on a daily basis that we must seek happiness, argues the American-Israeli academic Tal Ben-Shahar in his new book, the 5 Keys to Happiness, which appears this week by Robert Laffont. A specialist in positive psychology, known worldwide for his lectures on happiness and leadership, he draws here on the latest research in psychology and neuroscience. “My sisters and I have identified five fundamental keys – spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational, and emotional – that together form the Spiral Spire,” he explains. Is happiness just a matter of training and perseverance? Yes, thanks to the neuroplasticity of the brain, replies Without hesitation Tal Ben-Shahar, who promotes the policy of “small steps”. “For each key, you’ll determine your level of well-being on a scale of 1 to 10, before thinking about why you scored it. The objective is to indicate in the most concrete and precise way possible how to change this score, not by five or ten points, but by one. »
First key: spiritual well-being
« Spirituality can be experienced in two ways, says Tal Ben-Shahar. First, when we feel that our actions have meaning and purpose, and then when we are fully aware of the present moment. Everything we do, no matter how mundane it may seem, can be magnified if we consider it sacred. »
To start (at your choice): Choose a common task (cleaning, homework help…) and try to describe it as a “vocation” (“It is important to me, because…”, “I am passionate about…”, “I help others by…”); commit to doing only one thing at a time for an hour, each day; take ten minutes a day to enjoy a food/moment with all its senses (screens off).
Second key: physical well-being
Physical activity, coupled with a balanced diet, works in the same way as an antidepressant, by secreting norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, the hormones of well-being. “As for stress, it’s a false problem,” says Tal Ben-Shahar. Our body is good at dealing with it. The real problem is the lack of recovery. Nowadays, we are constantly in “on” mode. »
To start (your choice): Get up and move every thirty minutes if you sit for a long time (work, TV…); get into the habit of creating small constraints: walking instead of using the car or taking the stairs instead of the elevator; take three deep breaths every two hours.
Third key: intellectual well-being
Constant learning is one of the safest ways to achieve happiness. “It’s a way to satisfy our inquisitor nature,” says the academic. But one of the worst curses in the modern world is that deep learning has given way to superficial knowledge. »
To start (by choice): Practice asking questions (to others and to oneself); read an article or attend a conference on an unknown topic; take the time to read and reread a book that is close to our hearts or contemplate a painting, a landscape familiar with the mind of the beginner; make it a point of honor to make a few more mistakes by getting out of your comfort zone.
Fourth key: relational well-being
« The relationships that nourish us are not those where everything is perfect, but those where we show generosity and kindness, where we learn to manage conflicts and grow together. ” recalls the academic, who advocates “ego-altruism” as a relational model, an attitude consisting in taking care of others by not forgetting oneself, in order to prevent overwork.
To start (at your choice): Write a letter of gratitude to a person you esteem; spend a little more time with family or “real” friends and focus on intimate conversations; offer help only when necessary.
Fifth key: emotional well-being
It is not a question of looking for pleasant emotions at all costs. “When we reject painful emotions (anxiety, sadness), not only do they intensify but, in turn, they move away from their more pleasant versions from the same emotional channel (excitement, joy…)”, warns the specialist in positive psychology. We now know that the most resilient natural environments are home to a great deal of biodiversity. The same goes for our emotional ecosystem. The more varied our emotions are on the same day, the less likely we are to fall into depression!
To start (at your choice): Keep a diary (once a week) or meditate (a few minutes a day are enough) to observe your emotions and stop merging with them; savor, every evening before falling asleep, a small personal victory, taking care to visualize it; cultivate hope by scheduling pleasures to come…
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