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The secret of happiness lies in a two-minute email

14 February 2017


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A way to make yourself happy is to sit down once a day and send a two-minute email to someone you know, praising them, said a happiness expert.

A way to make yourself happy is to sit down once a day and send a two-minute email to someone you know, praising them, said a happiness expert.

Shawn Achor, founder of goodthink.inc and author of The Happiness Advantage told the World Government Summit 2017 that the daily habit becomes addictive as recipients often reply to the sender with praise themselves.

“It takes two minutes and then you spend all day thinking what a great person you are for doing something like that,” he said. “And they reply, sometimes in detail, because they don’t know about the two-minute rule, telling you how great you are,” he joked.

Achor also conducted an experiment, asking the audience to pair up and challenged them not to smile when their partner was smiling directly at them, adding that between 80 and 85 per cent of people usually fail to stop themselves from returning the smiled.  

He gave an example of another of his experiments to show how anxiety and stress is also infectious. “15 strangers all waiting for a plane, and you introduce an undercover researcher and they begin to bounce nervously in place, tap their foot on the floor and look at their watch,” he said. “Within two minutes, seven to 12 of the individuals will start tapping their feet and looking at their watch.

“It shows us that not only do smiles and yawns spread, but negativity, stress, anxiety, we can pick up like second-hand smoke.”

Simple tools like the daily praising email were part of a ‘happiness hygiene habit’ he said, describing happiness as the greatest competitive advantage of the modern economy.