When I decided to attend the first World Congress of Positive Psychology in Philadelphia, it turned out to be one of my learning highlights. Since then, I’ve kept my eye on Positive Psychology findings and research that focus on positivity, optimism and, of course, resilience. Reading The Happiness Advantage came along later.
First, I watched a TedTalk by Shawn Achor, the author. I became excited and curious if his strategies would work. Achor is a Harvard University and Positive Psychology researcher. His book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work has become a basic resource in the spear of Positive Psychology.
Achor challenges the I-will-be-happy-when myth. He proposes that success, including being accepted into your dream university, being hired for your dream job, finding your dream partner, or buying your dream electronic or four-wheeled toy does not lead to your happiness.
He found that many Harvard students thought they’d be happy if and when they got into this prestigious university. But most students’ pleasure soon waned as they put in place higher expectations for reaching success. They soon told themselves that they would be happy once they graduated with stellar grades. After graduating, the next happiness goal would be their dream job.
Based on Positive Psychology, Achor encourages developing a positive perspective or attitude for increased creativity, engagement, vitality, productivity…and eventually authentic happiness or what I call “basic life satisfaction.”
In a 2011 issue of Psychology Today, Achor’s article 5 Ways to Turn Happiness Into An Advantage, was published. In it, he wrote:
Every single relationship, business and educational outcome improves when the brain is positive first. If you cultivate happiness while in the midst of your struggles, work, at school, while unemployed or single, you increase your chances of attaining all the goals you are pursuing…including happiness.”
Achor proposes that achieving happiness requires retraining your thinking to be positive. Brain workouts are required. Here are Achor’s exercises for developing positivity. Do one, two or all them for 21 days in a row.
- Write down three new aspects of your life for which you feel grateful for each day. Positive Psychology research indicate this activity will significantly improve your even 6 months later.
- Spend 2 minutes a day writing a description of one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours. This exercise will help shift your thinking from task-based to meaning based; that is to scan your experiences for meaning instead of to-dos. Anchor writes, “This dramatically increases work happiness.”
- Exercise for 10 minutes a day. Exercise tells your brain that your behavior is important and can result in more successes through your day.
- Meditate for 2 minutes–observe your breath go in and out. This will help you get out of the poor habit of multitasking. Achor writes, “Research shows you get multiple tasks done faster if you do them one at a time. It also decreases Stress.”
- Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member of your team. This significantly increases your feeling of social support, which in my study at Harvard was the largest predictor of happiness for the students.
Let me know your experience of these five practices from The Happiness Advantage. I will be sure to respond.
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Patricia Morgan MA CCC helps her readers, clients, and audiences lighten their load, brighten their outlook, and strengthen their resilience. To go from woe to WOW call 403.242.7796 or email a request.