Seven Tools of Habits, Success, and Happiness  

habits happiness positive psychology positive psychology coaching Mar 16, 2022
Life Success Academy, Braco Pobric

Most of us discovered happiness when we were kids. We did not have to take happiness courses or read books. We did not need research; we did not need Positive Psychology. We knew what to do.  

The seven tools of Habits, Success, and Happiness that I learned when I was seven still apply today. Of course, I did not know back then what I was doing and why. But in retrospect, after studying and researching happiness for many years, I connected what I did with what I should be doing today to increase the chance of success and still be happy. To explain, let me share my story.

Growing up in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, a hilly street in my neighborhood would be closed most of the winter to car traffic due to impossible driving conditions. All the kids from the area, including myself, would go there with sleds— many homemade—and climb as high as possible and then sled down.

Sledding from the top of the hill the first time, we would end up at the bottom in a particular place. The second time we went down, we would be in a different location. The third time we went, we got to yet another place again. And so on. After going down all day long, we started using a well-established track without even trying. That is precisely what the brain does for us. Regardless of whether or not the habits we created are good or bad, the brain will follow the path we have already established.

To make significant changes in our lives and our business, we must establish new routines. What habit (s) you would like to develop to help you get closer to your big goal -  the big goal might be to publish a book, start your business, begin selling your products or services, deliver workshops, etc.  

To achieve that goal, you may need to commit to new routines such as - writing 30 minutes a day, waking up 5 AM daily, focusing one hour daily on marketing, working on your website two hours a day, reading one hour before you go to sleep, spend 30 minutes a day developing presentation skills, etc.

And to help you create new routines, and at the same time, become happier and successful, let's go over seven tools I applied when I was seven to create a new sledding routine.

1. Belief 

I can almost guarantee that before I went up to that hill, my thought was, Yes, I can. I never doubted myself. I knew it would be hard, I knew it was a challenge, but I had no fear. I believed in myself. Now I can say I believed that I could create a habit of going down the hill and establish a track that would take minimal to no effort to develop my habit of sliding down the hill. Thomas the train said I think I can. I said yes, I know  I can. 

A little did I know, the research done by Bruce Lipton shows that when we believe in something, truly believe, our bodies, all the way down the cell-level changes. Imagine that. So, the first thing you must-do if you want to change your habits, you must believe you can. 

2. Smile  

The night before I went to that hill, I clearly remember I was excited and happy. I would think how great and challenging the next day would be. And that thought made me smile. 

When we smile, we trick our brains into "thinking" we are happy, even if we are not. When our brain thinks we are happy, it releases dopamine, a happy chemical. Regardless of what routine you try to establish, you can't beat the fact that by smiling, you are producing a happy chemical, which will make you feel good and ease establishing a new routine. 

A little did I know, the research done by Mayo Clinic shows that smile, in addition to many other benefits, improves our personal satisfaction and therefore helps us establish a new habit.

3. Small Wins

Somehow, I knew I needed to start with "baby steps." Kids know that—no reason to teach it. I did not go all the way up to the hill on day one. Back then, I did not know the real reason for not getting all the way up except that I knew I had to start slow. I knew that kids who went all the way up were the ones who practiced and had more experience than me. 

Now that I think about it, if I went all the way up on day one,  I would be afraid to go down, or even if I went down, I would probably get hurt and never try again. Instead, I would go up only 50 feet, then 100 feet, then 300 feet, and so on until I was ready to get on top of the hill. And every time I reached the hill a little higher, it would motivate me to go again. Now I know I was also getting a dose of my dopamine, a happy chemical that would keep me going.

A little did I know, the research done by Karl Weick from the University of Texas shows how these "small wins," as he calls them, can help us establish a big goal– a new habit in our case.

4. Will Power 

I had to make sure that my parents would let me go sledding. Therefore, I had to deserve it. As soon as I got home from school, I would do my homework to make this happen. But I did not wait for the first snow to do that. It would be too late. They would figure out what I was up to. Instead, I started a few weeks before winter would come. 

And now I know it takes 21 - 30 days to establish a new habit. Funny enough, doing homework on time helped me get ready for snow days.

A little did I know the research done at Case Western Reserve University showed that making small changes in your habits, such as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, can improve your willpower. So do something you have never done before (like me doing the homework immediately after getting home from school), and chances are you will increase your willpower.

5. The Activation Energy and 20 Second Rule

Where do you think I would leave my sled – you guessed it, right by the door. I did not know the reason for that. I just wanted to be ready and not waste my time going to the basement, where the sled's usual location was. I lived on the third floor in a high ceiling building, so getting the sled was a big task. And, of course, there was no elevator. 

The sled was less than 20 seconds away from me, and that gave me that sparkle, the activation energy to get me going. 

A little did know, the research done by Michail Chekcmihail on Activation Energy and work done by Shawn Achor shows that the Activation Energy and 20-second rule will help us increase the chance of starting a new habit.

6. Support Group and Accountability Partner 

Some friends from the neighborhood would usually go together, supporting each other. In addition, most of us had a best friend. If one of us could not go, a friend would find a way to make it happen. My best friend was Nino. Today we can say he was my Accountability Partner. 

A little did I know, the research published in British Medical Journal shows that those in the support groups lost 15 pounds more on average than those with no support? What does that have to do with my sledding, you might ask? Maybe we lost some weight, but that is not the point.  

I had an accountability partner who supported me and the accountability group - the neighborhood friends. Martin Seligman, who some call Father of Positive Psychology, uses this same tool - Support Group and Accountability Partner - to assure he walks 10,000 steps a day.

7. Announcement  

I would tell everyone about my upcoming winter habit. Some kids were scared, but Braco said he was going to this hilly street every day to sled. Of course, he never told his parents.

A little did I know, the research done by William James when he referenced philosopher Alexander Bain who recommended, "In the acquisition of a new habit, or the leaving off an old one, we must...take a public pledge."

So now, go ahead and create that new track, new neural pathway - just as I did when I was sledding down from that hilly street  -and you, my friend, will create new routines that will make you successful and happy. 

Braco Pobric is an Internationally Recognized Positive Psychology Expert, Executive Coach, and Corporate Trainer. He is the bestselling author of Habits and Happiness: How to Become Happier and Improve Your Wellbeing by Changing Your Habits. Braco is a founding member and Chief Happiness Officer of the Life Success Academy, Certified Positive Psychology Master Coach and Trainer, and former globally Certified Trainer and Business Coach for Dale Carnegie Training. He trained over 60,000 Students in 172 countries.

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