May 6, 2015

20 Proven Happiness Habits and Practices to Create Joy

Denise and Cindie were lucky enough to teach at Rancho la Puerta this April. During there stay, they heard an inspiring speaker, world religion teacher Hana Matt, talking about The 20 Proven Happiness Habits and Practices to Create Joy.

Cindie was inspired to share some personal thoughts as well as Hana's wisdom (see link at the bottom to Hana's full presentation).

In a nutshell, neuroscientists have found that certain activities cause the joy area of the brain to light up, causing happiness-producing biochemicals to be released.

To think that we can improve our moods and increase our feelings of joy simply by incorporating some of these activities into our lives is incredible to me. 

The habit I found surprisingly easy to change was transforming negative thoughts into constructive, positive thoughts. Neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson found that “Thinking new and different thoughts creates new neural pathways. Changing your thoughts produces changes in your brain, and perhaps in your DNA. When you change your thinking to support your happiness, the old negative neural pathways shrink, and the positive neural pathways widen. That makes it easier and more automatic to think positively.” Davidson goes on to say, “When you experience a negative situation, find an equally true thought about the situation that makes you feel better, and lean into it. It is the equally true but happier thought that will lead you to joy. This is not the same as wishful thinking, or simply deciding to be happier. Instead you are shifting your focus from one part of your situation to another truthful part of your situation that creates a better feeling.”

Hana Matt is a therapist and teacher of world religions at Graduate Theological Union and The Interfaith Chaplaincy Institute, Berkeley, CA. She is also the Co-Director of the Spiritual Direction Training Program at the Interfaith Chaplaincy Institute. You can contact her at

Click here to view Hana's entire presentation and uncover YOUR joy!