Yesterday I watched a TED video from Shawn Achor (see it here) and was reminded of the power of perspective and how backwards we normally see things. It also took me back to the original purpose of this blog: do things to intentionally increase happiness and joy and it will spill over into every area of your life and the lives of others. To quote from my very first post (almost 1 yr ago!): research says happier people are more fun to be around (isn’t that surprising?!), contribute more to the lives of others, and outperform their less-happy peers.
If I know everything about your external world, I can only predict 10% of your long-term happiness. 90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.
The American world basically uses this formula: work harder, so I can become more successful, because if I’m more successful I’ll be happier. The problem is that formula is broken. It simply doesn’t work that way. Achieve a goal (good grades, getting a job, starting a family) and immediately the goal post moves (get better grades, a better job, be the perfect parent). The other problem is that our brains work in the opposite order. We perform significantly better in every area when our brains are working from a positive perspective, versus negative, neutral or stressed. Yikes!
Shawn’s formula for success looks something like this. Rewire your brain through consistent, daily, easy efforts. He lists 5 things that will contribute to the rewiring process:
- write down 3 new things that you’re grateful for every day– this retrains your brain to scan your world for the positive and not the negative (the opposite of what the news does for us!)
- journal about one positive experience you’ve had over the last 24 hrs.– writing about it allows you to relive it
- exercise– teaches your brain that your behavior matters.
- meditation– allows your brain to focus on one thing, rather than the “cultural ADHD” we experience by constantly multi-tasking
- practice random acts of kindness– he specifically suggests writing one positive email to someone in your circle of influence every day when you open your inbox, but expressing kindness in any way certainly counts!
Shawn gives a 21 day challenge to practice each of these things and I’m going to go for it. I did them all yesterday and it was fun. I recognize that day 1 is typically the easiest and it will be more challenging to be consistent as I build these habits. I’m focusing on progress and not perfection. I can’t wait to see how my brain gets trained a little more through these exercises. Wanna join me?