Orion Jones | Big Think, November 2014

We all want to be happy. Some have even said that achieving happiness is the goal of life. But we wouldn’t look to a technology company for such wisdom, would we? It seems unlikely, and yet Google has made a real contribution to happiness studies thanks to one of it’s first engineering employees, Chade-Meng Tan.

Noticing that his co-workers were often unsatisfied with life, Tan developed a three-step process to help Google employees achieve peace and tranquility, eventually transferring to the company’s HR department to implement it. Not only did the process seem to benefit Google employees—results from a growing body of studies on the subject of happiness support Tan’s process.

Step one is to quiet the mind through mindfulness meditation. This means disconnecting from your devices and carving out some time to think of nothing at all. Simply noticing the rhythm of your own breath can help stave off negative thoughts. In studies, mindfulness has helped decrease depression and anxiety.

Step two is to track moments of joy. Because we tend to remember negative experiences more clearly than positive ones, it takes special effort to bring all the good things in life to the forefront of our minds. Simply making a mental note of good moments during the day is a great way to start.

Step three is to wish others happiness. Studies have long found that volunteer work makes us feel good, but just keeping others in your mind gives you a mental boost as well.

As happiness studies expert Shawn Achor explains in his Big Think interview, feeling happy is crucial to leading a productive professional life: