We attended the quarterly All Hands Meeting for Zappos on Thursday, and there I had the chance to hear Shawn Achor talk about the Happiness Advantage. There were five steps to taking advantage of the powers of positive psychology. The scientist in me definitely had the initial reaction of wanting to dismiss this out of hand. How can thinking positive thoughts and being happy help someone ignore the pain caused by falling off the top bunk, landing on an already broken arm? This was coming after reading an article about burn victims at a Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within seminar. However, I do think there is a huge difference between what Mr. Achor and Mr. Robbins are speaking about, so I’m going to do my best to do 5 things that Mr. Achor outlined during his talk. They can be found at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-advantage/201108/5-ways-turn-happiness-advantage
1. Write down three new things you are grateful for each day into a blank word document or into the free app I Journal. Research shows this will significantly improve your optimism even 6 months later, and raises your success rates significantly.
2. Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours. This is a strategy to help transform you from a task-based thinker, to a meaning based thinker who scans the world for meaning instead of endless to-dos. This dramatically increases work happiness.
3. Exercise for 10 minutes a day. This trains your brain to believe your behavior matters, which causes a cascade of success throughout the rest of the day.
4. Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out. This will help you undo the negative effects of multitasking. Research shows you get multiple tasks done faster if you do them one at a time. It also decreases stress and raises happiness.
5. Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on 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.
So I will be posting everyday, at the very least adding to the list and reflecting on a positive experience. Hopefully doing something before adding to it.
Today I went to the Vegas Streats festival. And, ironically, it rained. It never rains in Vegas, well almost never. But running around in the rain for a while was an exquisite contrast from the dry heat that has been permeating my experience thus far in Vegas. It was incredibly refreshing.
What I’m thankful for (I’m going to start with the biggies):
1) My health. I might weigh a few more pounds than I would like (which I am working on changing), but by and large, I am healthy. And that is something so many people either take for granted or can’t say about themselves.
2) My employment. Maybe it was a bit arrogant of me, but I don’t think that I ever considered the possibility of being unemployed. Not only am I employed, in so many ways, I might have stumbled upon my dream job without even realizing it.
3) My family. I’ll be the first to admit that I often take my family for granted. And I really shouldn’t. Still not sure how to change that, but maybe it will change over time. But I do have two amazing parents and two awesome siblings. I’m not even going to try and do the tallies for my extended family because for Indians the line between friends and family is often blurry, if existent at all, but I am really lucky to have that kind of connectivity.