Happiness Advantage… Principle #1…Positive Mindset

Sorry for the delay in getting back to Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage.  Let’s get to it….Principle #1…Positive Mindset/retraining your brain to be positive.

“Just as water lilies retract when sunlight fades, so do our minds when positivity fades”…Barbara Frederickson

Historically it was thought that once your brain reached it maximum capacity at the age of adolescence that was it…you can’t change the size or shape of the brain.  In reality, scientists have now discovered that your brain is pliable/malleable.  By adjusting our thoughts and the way we live our life we can capitalize on our brains ability to change and therefore exact a positive outcome for your life.  That is some heavy stuff!!

There was…and still is to many…a myth that success=happiness, when in reality scientist now know that happiness=success.  Sure, you can strive for monetary success and be miserable throughout the entire process without every achieving true happiness….OR…you can train your brain to be happier and success will follow. Studies & research have shown that positive thinking can lead to greater success and a longer life.  One such study showed by testing the happiness scale of college freshman they can predict how high their income would be 19 years later….whaaat! There was even one study that measured people’s happiness (assuming with a questionnaire of some sort) and then injected the participants with the cold virus.  A week later those that were happier to begin with fought off the cold much better, with less symptoms, inflammation and duration than the less happy participants. Barbara Fredrickson’s studies show that when people experience positive emotions their minds open up to new possibilities and ideas…and on the flip side, negative emotions can constrict your mind, focusing on anxiety, fear, etc.  Merely thinking positive thoughts before a test yielded better scores and even the unusual experiment of giving people candy, without even eating it, before a test resulted in quicker answers and therefore a competitive edge.

Achor says that, sure, obviously it comes more naturally to some, but happiness is not just a mood, but a work ethic!  Scientists have proven that we have more control over our emotional well being than previously thought.  So how do you do that!?  Some proven ways to improve your mood and raise your level of happiness are…

  • engaging in activities that bring you pleasure…it’s different for everyone (cleaning, listening to favorite songs…or singing them etc..)
  • meditation is one of the most powerful ways to improve your mood…and I can attest to that!!
  • find something to look forward to…for me it’s travel and spending time with my kids/family, but sometimes it’s just knowing that I’ll see a beautiful sunrise at rowing in the morning.  Anticipation is a powerful emotion.
  • commit conscious acts of kindness & giving…it should be deliberate, not “oh, yeah I opened the door for that person earlier today” but buying a cup of coffee for the car in line behind you at the drive-thru Starbucks…and we’ve all seen those “free hugs” people around…doing something with no strings attached
  • infusing positivity into your surroundings…pictures of family or a beautiful scene at your desk?
  • exercise…long lasting and proven mood booster
  • spend money on experiences, not things..or on gifts for others…so true!
  • exercise a signature strength…maybe you’re a good cook, or baker.. or maybe you give good advice.  whatever it is just do it and you will be rewarded with the positive feeling you get.

By consciously practicing the above you can raise your baseline happiness, the emotional place you return to after negative and even positive events.  Both don’t last, but your baseline is what’s important and what you want to be your equilibrium.

Practice, practice, practice and it will become your reality!

this made me very happy this past weekend :o)

 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!


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