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5 Tactics to Improve the Quality of Your Life From Harvard’s Most Popular Course Creator

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Tal Ben-Shahar

Everyone wants to be happy, just ask Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, he’s an expert on the subject. Tal created the most popular courses in Harvard University’s history: Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership. Tal is a best selling author, entrepreneur, and speaker who currently works with groups and companies around the globe on a variety of topics.

As most of us know, it’s not always easy to stay in a happy state. Inevitably things will slow us down, and make us feel burdened or frustrated. Luckily, by using Tal’s tactics he taught to thousands at Harvard, we can maximize the positive and minimize the negative.

Tal recently sat down with The Science of Success and unveiled five key tactics to improve your quality of life that he lives by each day. Check them out below:

1. Awareness

“The best predictor of future behavior, is past behavior”, advises Tal. Think back to a time when you were truly leading a happy life engaged in meaningful experiences. What were you doing? Who were you doing it with? Using past reflection, identify what it was that caused these moments to be so great, then ask “How can I have more of it?” Cultivate an active willingness and desire to replicate these good experiences.

2. Relationships

Can you guess which countries are the happiest in the world according to the UN? The answers are Denmark, Australia, Colombia, Israel, and Holland. While some of these you might expect, places such as Israel and Columbia may come as a surprise.

So why are these countries ranked as the happiest? Relationships. Tal explains that, “In each of these countries there is a real importance, encouragement, and emphasis on establishing and cultivating intimate and healthy social networks.” It can come from various places such as religious organizations, sports, or clubs. Nonetheless, in each study an emphasis was found on cultivating meaningful relationships having a direct link to happiness. Go in search of likeminded individuals who share your passions and hobbies and get involved.

“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” – Swedish Proverb

3. Physical Activity

Keeping your body moving is not only a great way to cultivate physical health, but mental health as well. Tal recommends “regular exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week.” Aside from helping prevent chronic disease and improve physical health, exercise releases norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine in the brain.

These chemicals put your brain in a happy state and help you stay there longer, free of side effects! Dust off that bike, put on some tennis shoes, take that yoga class, and get your body moving at least 90 minutes a week. Your brain (and body) will thank you.

4. Learn From Failure

Cultivate a growth mindset when it comes to failure. We all are unhappy when we fail notes Tal, “but there are two very different kinds of responses. One is “This is awful. This is terrible. Now I’m never going to succeed and I’m a failure.” OR “Okay, I failed. It’s not pleasant, not fun, but what can I learn from it? How can I move forward? How can I go ahead wiser from this experience?”

Everyone in life will fail now and again, and often our failures are the most enlightening experiences. Some of history’s smartest and most successful people can attest to this. It’s the ability to emerge smarter and wiser from the experience that separates those who find success and those who bury themselves in negativity.

“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho

5. Don’t Expect To Always Be Happy

As Tal likes to say, “there are only two kinds of people who do not experience painful emotions…the first are psychopaths, and the second are dead people.” If you expect to always be happy then you are saying it’s OK to punish yourself when you feel negative emotions.

Paradoxically, by accepting these negative or painful emotions you are allowing yourself to let them pass. By fighting them, we only keep them in our focus longer. So embrace you feeling these emotions because, after all, that means you’re not a psychopath and that you’re alive!

What did you think of Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar advice? Please comment below!

Matt Bodnar, named a “Rising Restaurateur Star” by the National Restaurant Association and a “Strategy Pro” by Restaurant Hospitality Magazine, is a partner at an early stage investment firm Fresh Hospitality where he focuses on deal making and strategy. Bodnar is also the creator and host of "The Science of Success" a #1 New & Noteworthy podcast, with more than 1 Million+ downloads, focused on improving decision-making, understanding psychology, and sharing insights from experts. Bodnar previously worked as an import/export consultant in Nanjing, China and spent several years at Goldman Sachs before returning to his family roots in the hospitality space.

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Knowing Your Message vs Delivering Your Message

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Have you ever sent a text message only to have it misinterpreted by the person reading it? Happens all the time. Have you ever given a presentation that you were totally prepared for only to have it fall flat? Happens all the time. Have you ever had someone ask you something like, “Why are you mad?” when you were not at all mad? Happens all the time. (more…)

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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​​4 Boss Level Growth Strategies That Create an Optimized Life

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Building a business is about more than sales, marketing, and flexing on social media. While those things tend to draw attention, they attract the wrong type of clients and are not how you build a sustainable and freedom-focused business. (more…)

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Practicing Self-Devotion: 3 Ways Towards a More Mindful and Compassionate You

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I can still hear the voices of my older relatives and my elementary school teachers telling me “be disciplined”, “keep at it”, to give time and energy towards what we want. As a young, impressionable child, I believed all those things because well, they made sense. They worked. And honestly, I felt like it’s the only way to flourish. (more…)

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