Monday, 17 February 2014

My Happy Project - The world isn't as bad as we think

My Happy Project: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

For those who know me, they know that I am just a regular guy.  I have no special training or qualifications and this blog is just where I throw out my thoughts that might be of interest to you.  My my previous post I shared a TED talk by Shawn Achor talking about the happiness advantage.  I would like to start off this post by sharing 3 things that I am grateful for today as Shawn suggested.
  1. My wife for the love and support that she constantly provides to me.
  2. My children for teaching me more about life every day.
  3. My parents who I learn to appreciate more every day as I try to be a parent.
In the past week I have been trying to focus on the positive and look for the good with the purpose to realize how much good there is around us.  Today, I want share this VlogBrothers video from YouTube entitled "The Golden Gate Bridge Didn't Collapse!!" In this video Hank Green, in his style of humour, talks about our human perception of events.

Hank Green discusses his opinion why we feel the world is such a bad place and often we believe it is getting worse.  I completely agree with him on these points.  So many amazing things happen daily but as we learned from Shawn Achor, once we do something successfully we just up the conditions for success.  There are so many things that are amazing in life to train ourselves to think positively we need to narrow our view a little bit.  Hank's example of taking the 1000 people that are nearest to us we would experience 1 murder per lifetime.  However, with international news coverage we hear about many more murders across the globe causing us to over estimate chances of those negative events affecting our lives.  Hank states that our brains tend to weigh negative things two times more significant than positive things.  Since the negative makes more of an impact and since media companies like to make an impact, they look as far out as they need to to find the most sensational story.  You mix those two things together and we can understand that we are exposed to more negative news and we weight it more heavily. 

We have to celebrate the good stuff that happens to us and become more aware of the general positive that surrounds us.  The challenge is when I walk out the door tomorrow I should be happy that the snow plough cleared my street and not focus on the fact that it dumped tremendous amounts of snow at the end of my drive way.   I should celebrate the time spend at a red light as a nothing short of a miracle, that others will wait at the red light when I have my green.  The practical applications of these lessons in happiness are the most important to how we move forward.

So do you think the world is getting better or worse?  Do we even have the ability to have an impact to make the world better or are we all destined for failure and destruction?  I would like to believe that we live in a great place and we have great power and responsibility to make the world better.

My Happy Project: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

Sunday, 9 February 2014

My Happy Project - Positive Brains

My Happy Project: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

The last few days I have been suffering from a significant lower back pain.  The result is me lying down more then I would like to be.  It is difficult lying down flat on your back because you really can't do much very easily, so I have been thinking (usually gets me into trouble).  I have been getting very interested in the idea of happiness and how your outlook on life impacts every aspect of your life.

I am sure that all of us can agree that being happy is probably a good thing.  Today, some employers are also realizing that happy employees are a good thing for the company.  There seems to be so much discussion about this I have a hard time understanding stories I hear from friends and family about overbearing work places that restrict an employees freedom to the point of suffocation.

I prefer to focus on the people who continue to promote happy in a real and meaningful way.  I often come across good resources that discuss this and I find my self empowered by them to make change in my own life.  So all this lying around resulted in a plan to create a small mini-series on my blog devoted to sharing happy resources.  I hope that you will continue the discussion in the comments on how applicable some of these things are to you.

There are many happiness project type blogs, books and 10 step formulas to happiness.  I often find things suspect that someone has discovered the secret to happiness that you can also learn for a low price.  I feel that if I had discovered a way to happiness, I doubt that I could contain it or wait for you to pay me for it.

I welcome you on this journey of discovering happiness resources.

Today I would like start by sharing Shawn Achor's TED talk "The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance".

This talk is a humorous approach to the discussion about happiness.  Shawn talks about the reality that we are exposed through social interactions and mass media a disproportionate amount of negative events.  We then tend to believe that this is the normal way of thinking.  We have to intentionally train ourselves to focus more on the positive aspects of life to rewire our brains.  The result of this has the potential to dramatically change the way we experience day to day living.

To accomplish this re-wiring Shawn suggests the following:
  1. 3 Gratitudes - record 3 things that you are grateful for daily
  2. Journaling - writing positive experiences down allows you to relive it
  3. Exercise - teaches your brain that behaviour matters
  4. Meditation - allows your brain to focus on a single thing instead of multiple tasks at once
  5. Random Acts of Kindness - write one positive email praising or thanking someone daily
The result is training our brain to focus on the positive and allows us to change what success is.

I have watched this talk several times and I love the message of intentionally focusing on the positive and going out to find news stories about the positive aspects of life.  Happy is not an accident stumbled upon by someone else, it is something that we need to do.  By doing this for ourselves and performing acts of kindness we will be paying it forward. Consider yourself a happiness ambassador and share your experiences with your friends.

We can choose to do nothing and hope that happiness and success stops by or we can go out and grab them and make them our own.  Tell me what you think.

My Happy Project: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |