The scientific community has recently unveiled hundreds of surprising new research studies which proposes that happiness can be taught like mathematics or geography. This has a huge impact on the economy given that, according toHarvard Business Review, happy employees are on average 31% more productive, obtain 37% higher sales and are more creative. After ploughing through the exciting research we came up with 5 tips specifically for the benefit of freelancers on how to approach each mandate or gig with heartfelt positiveness.
As a lecturer at Harvard University, Professor Tal Ben-Shachar created the most popular and attended courses in Harvard’s history. In these courses, “Positive Psychology” and “The Psychology of Leadership”, Tal Ben-Shachar did not pretend to give definitive answers on how to be happy; instead he provided guidance with practical advice that were based on scientific research.
Based on Tal Ben-Shahar’s courses, here are 5 suggestions for being a happier Freelancer:
- Allow yourself to be human. Give yourself permission to feel the range of emotions that are natural and are part of being human. Don’t expect to live on a high of happiness; only psychopaths can do that. The more you try to suppress painful emotions (natural phenomena) the more they intensify; it is only when you accept them that they weaken. Accept the painful emotions and choose the appropriate course of action. Nothing wrong with feeling fear. Accepting it and moving forward is called courage.
- Exercise- 3 times a week for 30-40 minutes. Exercise is equivalent to some of the most powerful drugs that deal with depression and anxiety. This is particularly important for freelancers where most of our activities are sedentary- in front of the computer. There has been an explosion of research on mind-body connection. A study from Duke Medical School on serious depression showed that by doing exercise, patients improved their mental health as much as the patients that were under psychiatric medication. And the relapse for those that were doing exercise was 3 times less than the patients under medication. Not exercising is like taking depressants! Exercise combats obesity, increases performance, reduces violence in society, pushes back cognitive decline by 10-15 years and much more. So stop for 30 minutes every day and do some exercise. Your work will definitely benefit from it.
- Be grateful- One practical tip is to express your gratitude daily in writing – Keep a record every day of 5 things for which you are thankful, small or big. So Freelancers when you open your computer each morning take a moment to make your list. A study from Emmons and McCullough showed that this will make you more optimistic; strengthen your immune system and make you more generous and benevolent towards others. While you record 5 good things for which you are grateful you are basically focusing your attention on positive things. When we appreciate the good in our lives, the good appreciates. When we take things for granted, they depreciate.
- Simplify- Do less rather than more. Many freelancers that work from home are taking care of many activities at the same time. For most, working from home allows you to do professional work while supervising kids, preparing dinner, running errands and so much more. We are bringing more things into less and less time and we pay the price in the quality of our relationships. Too much to do increases stress and can potentially lead to depression, two of the most common health concerns of our society. A study at University of London showed that writing emails while you do something else is the equivalent of losing 10 IQ points. Focus on one thing at the time. Take time to sit and chat with your friends and family. Relationships are the number one predictor for well being, not money. As Prof. Sonya Lyubomirsky (“The How of Happiness”) says, social relationships are the biggest factor of happiness and well being. They help in coping with negative events, achieving goals and getting support.
- Mindful meditation –Research from John Kabat-Zinn shows that people that meditate as little as 15 minutes a day have lower levels of anxiety, improved their mood significantly and strengthened their immune system. So you become happier and healthier from meditation. The breathing is fundamental and it can be as little as 3 deep breaths three times a day to reverse stress (Thomas Crum).
Real change comes only with action. This is an opportunity to introduce positive behavior into your life. You will then see how you become more productive and happier each time you undertake a new project. And if you are happier doing it, your client will definitely reap the fruits of it.
If you are a freelancer and you are looking for your next project, mandate or gig, visit Workhoppers.com where you will get matched with the right job for you.