Monday, December 9, 2013

Advantage, Happiness

LYou can train your brain for optimism, to watch for things that make you grateful, to scan for positivity.  The more you do it, the more you get it.  It's available to all of us.

I've decided that in 2014, yes, sure, I'll try to lose weight.  But mostly, I will try to train my brain to look for goodness, to engage in activities that make me happy.

What we think will make us happy actually doesn't.  This was something I learned last week in a conference session entitled, The Happiness Advantage.  Some of what I learned was from the book by the same name, by Shawn Achor.

What we think will make us happy actually doesn't.  Happiness doesn't come from success, but rather happiness usually gets us to success.  Happy people are more likely to seize opportunities because the brain of the happy is usually more open to trying, more open to scanning for opportunities.  The result is the successful you because of the happy you (throw away that "happy because you are successful" notion, whatever that version of "successful").

A lot of us make mistakes, and relative to happiness, here are a few unconscious, negative ones:
1) trying to figure out if we're happy (the self-critic in evaluation mode, again and again);
2) overestimating the benefits of what we'll gain if we're happier;
3) pursuing happiness alone (doing things for others is an amazing antidote);
4) trying to find INTENSE happiness - this, of course, removes you from the present moment.

So are you happy?  Do you lose track of time because you are in "the flow"?  Doing your thing?  That's a sign you're truly happy.  Do you inventory your daily positive experiences?  That's you, in business for yourself, working on your own happiness.  It plays with that very influential cousin, gratitude.

Synthetic happiness is acceptable, take it.  You can synthesize it - make it up, find it, decide on it.  

Dan Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the common idea that you'll be miserable if you don’t get what you want, if you don't find it.  But he contends that you can feel true happiness even when things don't turn out the way you want.  For example, his research has shown that paraplegics and lottery winners, about a year after losing their legs and a year after winning the lottery, report about the same level of happiness.    

Now if you really want to work on happiness, take a minute, grab an ice cream or lollipop, and watch this (grab a tissue, too):


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