Mike Simonsen — How Do You ‘Hack’ Happiness?
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Today’s show is about hacking happiness, fulfillment, and connection for both yourself and your team. Our special guest has generated terrific business results by digging deep into something so simple, but complex: happiness.
Mike Simonsen is the Co-founder and CEO of Altos Research, a company that analyzes real estate markets in real-time. Mike is also a Board Member for the San Francisco chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
In 2001, Mike bought his own house in Silicon Valley. It was overpriced, the mortgage was ridiculous, and the NASDAQ was going crazy. Mike started building models based on the data he had about the U.S. real estate market to better help him understand what was going on. Realizing he had collected more data about this industry than even the financial institutions, he started his company in 2006 to help anyone with an interest in real estate.
What exactly does it mean to ‘hack’ happiness? Mike noticed himself getting into a funk. He was feeling uninspired and just getting lazy in his business, and he wanted to get out of it… he wanted to feel inspired again.
During his research, he discovered nine pillars that would help him feel connected and happy again. He tried it on himself and discovered something amazing — he had a really good year in 2018, both professionally and personally. In fact, It wasn’t just a ‘good’ year, it was actually the best year he’s ever had.
What did he do? Well, first, he changed the way he tackles stress. Typically, when Mike gets stressed, he starts to avoid things. So when Mike noticed he was getting stressed, he decided to meditate, which immediately drops cortisol (stress) levels. After three months of meditation, there were positive changes in his physical tests.
Second, he stopped putting goals down because he would routinely never complete them. Instead, he put measurements in place so he could track his progress and he also set a schedule for himself so he made sure he’d do that thing. This took an enormous amount of pressure off of him.
Third, Mike wanted to boost up his serotonin and oxytocin (joy/happiness) levels, because it’s much more sustainable than dopamine (reward). He did this by recording his moments of joy. This gave him the opportunity to remember all the positives that have happened in his day. He would also journal his negative emotions down because it gave all this pent up energy an ‘out.’