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.
I love the daily tips above! I need to try this for 21 days. Thanks for the inspiration!!
You’re very welcome, Rachel! I’m glad you like it! 🙂
Amie Spatg says
My boyfriend whom I live with makes it hard to think positive. I already have depression, anxiety and low self esteem. He tried to be helpful but it’s all critical. That makes me feel worse. Would this still work for me? I am willing to try it. Just not sure if it’s going to be helpful. He himself is very pessimistic.
Positivity is so important! I always write in my journal, but I want to start writing down things I’m grateful for or positive things that happened that day. I think that would be a great change!
It is actually so nice to go back, read and remember the things you are grateful for! Just try it! 🙂
Ana thanks for sharing Shawn’s TED talk. I listened to it a few times last winter, and it really made an impact on me. I also believe that when we are positive it affects the people we live with too. 🙂
That’s so true, Lisa! I would listen to this talk over and over again! So inspiring!
LOVE this post! I will definitely be sharing with a few of my not so positive friends! lol
Haha, very good, Amanda! I truly believe we can create our own happiness.
Ooh, I like the idea of training your brain to look for the positive – such a simple idea, but so important! I love the ideas for what to try each day, too. Definitely going to chew on these ideas! 🙂
There’s so much positivity in remembering the things that made us happy! Just give it a try!
Great post. I already do some of those things, but I’ll have to work on a couple of them. I am doing a gratitude challenge on my blog right now if you are interested in joining! http://journeysofyoga.com/30-day-gratitude-challenge-week-1/
Thanks for stopping by, Abby! I will check your gratitude challenge right now. 🙂
Julie is Hostess At Heart says
I need some positive thinking training right now. My internet has been down for 3 days LOL! I’m saving this to read when I have better service. Great post Ana!
Thanks, Julie! I hope your internet is back. Enjoy your weekend!
Lynz Real Cooking says
Wow very good ideas, I will watch the video! thanks
I’m sure you are going to like it! This guy is charming. 🙂
Lynz Real Cooking says
Thanks! I saved this so I could really read it and watch!
I really love this idea and am willing to try it. My husband always teases me that I’m a glass half empty kind of person, so I know I can use this. Thanks for sharing it, Ana!
Just give it a try Shari, and let me know how it goes. Have a lovely weekend! 🙂
Karen Grosz says
I love the thought of journaling and know it can really help to write down what I am grateful for, however, I do it hit and miss. Not sure what cue I could use to do it. I continue to try and will get it eventually. I completely agree with you that you can train your brain to be more positive. Thanks for continuing to be a part of Let’s Get Real.
Nine Cent Girl says
What a great 21 day challenge! Seems like a good day to start too! Thanks for always reminding your readers of the important stuff, the positive! xxoo
I found this link on Pinterest and I always like to check things out before I pin them. I loved this TED talk. Great start to my day. I do all of the things listed except meditate and I’m still trying to get that accomplished. Thanks so much for sharing this.
Lauren C. Moye says
What a fascinating post! I remember in my undergrad classes we did a self-esteem exercise that was very similar (although a much shorter duration). We were given a list of character traits and were told to pick out three that we would rank at the top of the list. Of course, the point wasn’t on which character traits were the /best/ but what we admired and valued most. We were then asked to choose which one of the traits we felt like we were lacking the most. The final part of the worksheet prompted us to come up with 3-5 ways we could practice that character trait in that week. At the end of the week we gave an informal report on how shifting our lives to reflect a trait we viewed positively had made us feel. It was an eye-opening “duh!” moment as I listened to my classmates talk.
Lisa Elaine says
I’m all about spreading the positivity and I love your daily steps. They really do work
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says
Ana, I’m so glad you tweeted about this positive post today! I’m definitely retweeting it! My favorite point: “When the target changes frequently, the happiness becomes an unattainable goal.”
Thank you! I’m glad you like my post! 🙂
So this email will be my number 5 from the list above. Thank you! I was starting to feel a bit down and losing some hope with my blogging adventure and than I saw this pin 🙂
It is amazing how the universe listen!
So thank you , this helped alot
I feel so great to know how to remain positive in day-to-day life and how we can change our lifestyle towards it. There is something in your article that gave me the flow not to stop reading till the last word. All thanks to you!