Tag Archives: The Happiness Advantage

Let’s Get Positive….Positive…

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Let's Get Positive...Positive.docx

Take time to add positivity to your life daily! I always knew that it was important to view experiences in our lives as “the glass half full” as opposed to  “the glass half empty”, what I didn’t realize is that we can actively infuse our lives daily with positivity! Here is the recipe:

A dash of Meditation (please read “Meditation is Concentrated Happiness Training”)

A sprinkle of Looking Forward (big or small, put it on the calendar)

5 Cups of Kindness (even small purposeful acts of kindness decrease stress)

Mix it up Outside (20 minutes daily)

Evaporate Negative television or any Negative media

Add Exercise (produces endorphins and helps keep stress at bay)

Whisk together money for Experiences (shift focus away from material things)

Grow your Signature Strengths

Bake until done and share with friends and family!

She Had Me at “Style Speak”

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My hope is to pleasantly surprise, not confuse. Creating happiness is unique to you, but there are some things we all need to focus on. Even if you might not think this is important to you, I hope to change your mind by the end of the post.

As I was saying in my “Back to School For You” post, I found myself reflecting on my life and trying to get back to things I used to enjoy.  One of those things for me was beauty, style, and fashion.  I wondered why my style and fashion sense seemed to have escaped me. Rarely did I get a chance to watch t.v., however this one particular  morning I grabbed a laundry folding chance to watch a morning show.  I happen to catch Bobbie Thomas being interviewed about her new book (at that time) “The Power of Style”. I decided to buy it that morning. What I got was so much more than makeup and fashion tips.

The Power of Stylee

“Style is the way we speak to the world without words.” Bobbie further explains how important it is that we really understand ourselves inside and out.  Her first career began as she pursued graduate studies in marriage, family, and child counseling.  She begins the book by explaining the significance of our feelings and view of ourselves.  She writes how women (in particular) tend to look in mirrors and focus on the flaws instead of appreciating the beauty. Focusing on flaws leads to feeling sorry for yourself which usually leads us to lifting our spirits with sweets and treats (not a healthy coping skill). On the other hand when people feel great they are motivated to take care of themselves which leads to confidence and self awareness which strengthens us to make the changes in our lives that we need to make.

This is so similar to the point Shawn Achor makes in “The Happiness Advantage” regarding the importance for us to try to focus on the positives. In both instances we need to focus on both the positives occurring in our lives and about ourselves.  I would like to address the negatives here. There are experiences in our lives that are negative which do need our attention and respect. In that you don’t want to deny some of the happenings in your life because they are sad or frustrating. There are moments you need to feel the sadness or the anger, but don’t allow it to be the only thing you can think about. Also, help yourself move through it without it always casting a shadow on your present.

Back to “The Power of Style”. Bobbie includes simple strategies, like leaving yourself a sticky note with inspiration where you will see it daily.  I liked this idea of writing song lyrics, quotes, or a simple reminder to smile. Remember the simple act of smiling sends chemicals to our brain which help us to feel good? She included a quote by George Bernard Shaw, “Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself”.  This quote is one of my favorites and it turned up in my life again, very randomly, on a magnet which is now on my fridge.  I try to live that one.

She also very genuinely and honestly reveals that the reflections in our lives don’t just come from mirrors, but from the people around us. The people in our lives reflect back what they see in us, sometimes accurately and sometimes inaccurately.  Just like those fun house mirrors, people in your life who might be concave or convex themselves, may reflect back their own imperfect idea of you. It is important to take in what the people in your lives reflect back to you. Once I began to do this and really listen, I usually found something about myself I could work on and improve. This, I think, helped my relationships. Of course, there have been times when I knew the reflection was not accurate, then I took time to figure out whether to work on that relationship or let it go. Surround yourself with positive people who see you and reflect back your true self.

To be continued…..

Keep an Open Mind

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928  After reading Principle #1, The Happiness Advantage, I realized that I needed to change my own thinking.  Most of us believe:  if you are successful, you will be happy.  My thinking needed to change to:  if you are happy, success will follow.  Decades of research has proven this, but we are still stuck in the other belief.

We all have experienced negative emotions causing physical changes in our bodies (upset stomach, back pain, increase of stress) well, positive emotions also affect our brain and body, but in a positive way.  Therefore, changing your thinking and realizing the importance to focus and practice happiness first, and probably foremost, changes how your brain works and body feels. Daily focus and practice towards a more positive attitude will cause you not only to feel better but to experience things like clearer thinking, more creativity, being more open to new ideas, and my favorite, happiness is catchy!  I posted that I am trying to “Lead by Example” because if I become happier and feel better, so will the people around me. Who doesn’t want that?

Even more interesting to me was the experiment I read about where scientists primed their subjects before hand. One group was primed to experience something happy and positive and the other was primed with something causing stress and anxiety. Not surprisingly, the happier group did better, but not only did they do better,  they were better able to problem solve, were more creative and more open-minded.

Positive emotions release chemicals in our brains that make us feel good.  Studies also show that these chemicals also increase our learning potential. The way we organize information, quicker and more creative thinking, the ability to see things in a new way, and longer lasting retrieval. Feeling happier also helps us to see more positives in our environment.

Some companies that Shawn mentioned who use this advantage are Yahoo! and Google. Obviously, very successful! They know that happier employees lead to a more successful company.

Shawn advises the following to use the Happiness Advantage in our lives:

Meditate
Looking forward to something (vacations are nice )
Acts of Kindness
Create positivity in your life
Exercise
Plan and use your money on activities that bring happiness
Exercise a signature strength

In my next post I will write more about these areas.

 

Please Read “The Happiness Advantage” By Shawn Achor

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The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

One night I happen to catch Shawn Achor on PBS speaking about Happiness.  I learned that he wrote the book “The Happiness Advantage”.  My interest was sparked and I decided to read his book.  I mentioned catching Shawn’s talk on t.v.  to my husband who just smiled and nodded.   A few weeks later his company had Shawn as a speaker. He too, thought Shawn was a terrific speaker.  I was even more convinced that I should read this book.

Shawn speaks to companies worldwide about his 7 principles of positive psychology to fuel success and performance at work. Having a minor in business, myself, and a few years working in the business environment, I understood the relationship between having more positive leadership and employees creates a more successful business.  Having experience as a classroom teacher and parent, I also have an understanding that classrooms and households are much like running a business in that the teacher or caregiver is a manager/facilitator of the students/children and it is important for the children to have positive attitudes and be supportive of each other to have a successful environment (classroom or home).  Shawn states, “Waiting to be happy limits our brain’s potential for success, whereas cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative, and productive, which drives performance upward.”  Not only does this research help individuals and companies, but it can help parents, teachers, and students. After reading Shawn’s book and using some of his advice in my own life, I became very motivated to share this amazing research.  I do highly encourage you to read the book on your own, but I realize I needed to do more than just encourage friends and family to read the book.  I want to explain the principles and then give examples of how they can be used by your family and in classrooms.

The Happiness Advantage:  Positive brains have a biological advantage over brains that are neutral or negative.  When we train our brains (which is possible) to seek out positives in our world we create biological changes that improve our productivity and performance.

The Fulcrum and the Lever:  Shawn discusses our mindset here. We can adjust our mindset to give us more control over our world. (Be sure to look at Carol Dweck’s Fixed vs. Growth Mindset on my Happiness Page.)

The Tetris Effect:  When our brains get stuck in a pattern that focuses on stress, negativity, and failure, we set ourselves up to fail.  This is where Shawn discusses focusing on positives in our lives will help us to see more positives and have more successful outcomes.

Falling Up:  When we face difficult times our brains have different paths to help us cope.  This principle shows us that failure can lead to learning and we can be lifted up out of these challenges.

The Zorro Circle:  When we face an overwhelming challenge, task, or life situation our brains get hijacked by our emotions. Shawn explains that we can gain our focus by looking at the smallest circle first. Once we have managed to take on a small section of the challenge we will then be able to slowly take on bigger and bigger circles.

The 20-Second Rule:  Our willpower is limited. Shawn explains that if we make a small change to help us end a bad habit or begin a new habit we will be successful.

Social Investment:  Successful and Resilient people know the importance in investing and nurturing their support system of family, friends, and colleagues.

“Together, these Seven Principles helped Harvard students (and later, tens of thousands of people in the “real world”) overcome obstacles, reverse bad habits, become more efficient and productive, make the most of opportunities, conquer their most ambitious goals, and reach their fullest potential.” …Shawn Achor

I will be explaining all these principles further and sharing how I used them for myself and my children.  I will also be “connecting the dots” with the  terrific material from other positive psychologists and also giving information that I found very complimentary to what Shawn has discussed.