Positive psychology is a relatively new movement in social psychology.
It deals with changing the patterns that our brain has been programmed into, whether by habit or social environment and experience.
Many people say, “If I can just work harder right now, I’ll be more successful. As soon as I achieve this goal, I’m going to feel much happier.” As soon as I have this amount of money in the bank, then I’ll feel happier. As soon as I get married, I’ll feel happier.”
As Shawn Achor, an expert in positive psychology points out, “In each one of these moments, happiness is on the opposite side of success. The problem is every time you hit a success, your brain changes the goal post to what success looks like. You get goods grades in school, don’t get excited. You need to get into a better school. You go to a good school, don’t get excited about that. Now you need a job. Hit your sales target? We raise your sales target for the next quarter. If you have double growth earnings last year, we try and double them again this year.”
In one of his studies he found that if for 21 days in a row, we got people who were potentially genetic pessimists who’ve been practicing pessimism their whole lives, they’re in the middle of a down economy, they’re in the middle of a banking crises sometimes. We were working with some of the bankers in the midst of this. You have people in that state think of three new things that they’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row. By the end of the 21 days, they have 63 things that they’re grateful for, which is robust but not the point.
The point is, happiness is a pattern for the brain. You can learn happiness, you can learn optimism, not if we do single shots of changes in our life, but actually creating patterns to our daily experience. As they start at each of the workdays thinking of three things that they’re grateful for, their brain gets stuck. It scans the world not only for the fires they need to put out, but also the things that provide meaning.
He goes on to explain that when the human brain is positive, every single business outcome improves dramatically. Productive energy rises by 31%, sales rise by 37% cross-industry, you’re 40% more likely to receive your promotion over the next two year period of time. Literally every business outcome we could test for, improves when the human brain is positive.
I’m going to challenge you, and myself for that matter, to try the experiment of Shawn Achor and find three things to be thankful for. For 21 consecutive days. Can you do that? It seems hard in the beginning, I run out of ideas on the third day, so I’m starting again now.
What he found is, for 21 days in a row, getting people to think of three new things they’re grateful for, literally trains the brain to become more optimistic. You can do it with 4-year old children and 84-year old men, grumpy old men. What’s amazing is if we choose to do this, this simple activity, we can get our levels of optimism and happiness to rise above our genetic set point and to deviate it from our environment, which is so powerful because people think that they can’t move from those places.
Another study shows that as much as 90% of your long term happiness is determined not by our external world, but how our brains process the world. Money can’t buy happiness they say, right?
If you change your outlook on life, values, ideals, reduce the negative thoughts even forcefully, you can change your formula for happiness and success which in return will affect reality, will drive your focus and energy to achieve better results.
So, this is where I leave you and I’m starting my 21 day challenge. Will report later on my progress.
Ted Talks: The Happy Secret to Better Work https://youtu.be/fLJsdqxnZb0
ACCELERATED ABUNDANCE SYSTEM interview 2015