I truly believe that positive emotions shape not only our social relationships with others and our psychological growth but also our health and our everyday life in general. A few days ago I came across a video that was so captivating that I went back and watched it several times, again and again. The speaker in the video is the famous positive psychologist Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage, and he delivers lectures on how to increase happiness and meaning to his students at Harvard. He is brilliant, charming, funny and so right!
He states that 90% of our happiness is predicted by the way our brain processes the world, and 70% of job successes are predicted by your optimism level, social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge, instead as a threat.
Shawn Achor mentions two interesting things he’s discovered working with students:
- Once in college, students tend to focus more on the competition, workload, hassle, and stress, than on their success, privileges, and philosophy.
- Students in a New England boarding school are given weekly talks on adolescent depression, violence, and bullying, eating disorders, drug abuse, and risky sex. Nobody talks about the positive and happiness.
He believes we need to reverse the way of thinking: if I work harder, I’ll be more successful, then I will be happier; if I change my job, I’ll be happier; if I move to another house, city, or place, I will be happier. When the target changes frequently, happiness becomes an unattainable goal and your brain never gets there. We need to give up the belief that first we have to be successful, then we’ll be happy.
If we can change the way we think and raise the level of positivity, then the brain experiences a happiness advantage and it performs better than a brain on stress. Our intelligence, creativity, productivity, and energy level rise.
Also, read How to Build A Positive Mindset
Shawn Achor gives a few tips on how to train our brains to become more positive. It only takes a few minutes each day for 21 days to rewire your brain.
This is what you should do daily:
1. Write down 3 things you are grateful for.
2. Journal about one positive experience.
4. Meditate – it teaches your brain to focus on the task at hand.
5. Do random acts of kindness; write one thank you email for someone who helped you at some point in time.
At the end of 21 days, the brain starts to retain the pattern of scanning the world for the positive. Training your brain to regularly focus on the best part of your everyday life is going to help you be more present, move forward with more clarity and comfort, and become a little happier each day. It doesn’t even seem that difficult and I am ready and excited to give it a try! Are you?
Do you already do any of the five exercises above? Let me know in the comments below!
For more tools and resources on happiness check out my Resources page.