Albert Einstein once said, “the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe.” It’s not just a catchy saying in the wellness community–our thoughts do frame our realities. This knowledge is the foundation of what psychologists call ‘cognitive-behavioral therapy’ or CBT. CBT is the practice of changing one’s thoughts and beliefs in order to change your emotional experience and negative, reactive behaviors. This idea was an inspiration to Bo Parfet when he began his journey as a serial entrepreneur and thought leader in the philanthropic space. As a founder and funder of many companies and nonprofits, Bo Parent is passionate about developing the ideal mindset for success. Part of developing the ideal mindset is to strive for happiness. Here are Bo Parfet’s top four tips on how to be happier and more successful in your everyday life.
Optimize Your Morning Routine
Many successful lifestyle influencers tout the importance of a regular routine. Bo Parfet recommends developing a strong morning routine above all else. The process of neuroplasticity takes place at night when you sleep. New connections are made in your brain that are a fundamental part of your growth as a person. The morning should be an opportunity to embrace the work our brain has done during the night. How we start the day sets the tone for what comes next. If you start with the belief that your world is good and abundant, you’ll view the events of daily life in a more positive light. First, rather than impulsively checking updates on your phone, try staying unplugged for the first few hours of the day if possible. Go to a window and let the sunlight wash over you. Even if you don’t live in a sunny climate, natural light will help your mind to wake up.
In meeting with other busy entrepreneurs, Bo Parfet has found many of them use meditations regularly. For example, try Yoga Nidra–a passive listening exercise that brings you into a state between sleep and wakefulness–a type of pseudo sleep. It’s especially restorative if you don’t quite get enough sleep. Try this practice for 10-30 minutes each morning. Yoga Nidra guided meditations are available for free on Youtube from MadeFor, as well as an increasing number of meditation podcasts.
Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
Do you make space in your imagination for happiness? According to the school of positive psychology, demonstrating gratitude toward others doesn’t only benefit them–it also benefits you–both emotionally and in terms of your physical health. Cultivating gratitude enhances positive, prosocial emotions like empathy and optimism and keeps harmful feelings like envy away. As neuroscientist Andrew Huberman explains, in the long-term, a gratitude practice can materially shift your mindset toward prosocial thoughts and improve your level of happiness.
If a gratitude practice is new to you, Bo Parfet suggests starting off with a gratitude journal. By writing about a few things each day that you’re grateful for, you train your mind to adapt to positive beliefs about your reality. There are many ways to keep a gratitude journal. Use a simple notebook or a voice recording device if it’s easier. Gratitude journaling is often recommended as a simple aid for relaxation and better sleep.
Your Diet Matters
While healthy eating may seem like a common recommendation, it has only been over the past ten years or so that the scientific community has been able to demonstrate that our diet directly affects our mental health. Proper nutrition is now recognized as an essential element for boosting happiness. Given the right nutrients, the brain can prevent depression and operate at an optimal level. Consuming vegetables, in particular, over sugary foods, can help you improve your happiness over the long term. Additionally, there’s now a whole stream of literature on how gut health is inextricably linked with your mental state. Maintaining a healthy gut will help to reduce anxiety and other negative feelings. For this reason, when it comes to boosting happiness, nutritional consulting can actually aid more traditional treatments like psychotherapy.
Challenge Yourself Physically
Physical challenges have been an important part of the journey for Bo Parfet. In his book Die Trying: One Man’s Quest to Conquer the Seven Summits, Bo discusses his unique journey as one of a small number of explorers to climb all Seven Summits (the tallest mountains on each continent). Of course, this is an extreme example of challenging oneself physically, but even small actions make a difference.
A recent review of the literature on physical exercise and positive emotions affirmed that there is, as suspected, a strong link between happiness and physical activity. In fact, as little as 10 minutes of physical activity per week can result in a boost in positive feelings. The type of activity is not so important. In general, physical activity affects our state of mind by regulating chemicals in the brain like endorphins, stress hormones, and serotonin.
Additionally, we benefit from the feeling of satisfaction when we master a physical challenge like, for example, climbing a mountain. However, you choose to challenge yourself, find the physical exercise that works for you and make it part of a daily routine. In the long term, you’ll be surprised by how much happier you feel.
About Bo Parfet
Bo Parfet is an author, real estate professional, and philanthropist. Parfet and his wife Meridith are co-founders of Denali Venture Philanthropy, an organization that fosters relationships to improve social impact. Lately, he has been working on a podcast called the “Impact with Don Wenner”. The podcast focuses on how to proactively make a difference in the world while also making a profit, and interviews dozens of professionals from various industries to discuss current economic challenges and how to find meaning and solitude in difficult times.