How do you balance the challenge of what it means to be successful? Does success mean working harder? Does success mean striving to be better? Does success mean “doing” more? According to the way we are socialized, the answer is typically, “Yes,” to all three questions. Yet, this view-point is so far from the truth, because it fails to celebrate and acknowledge the joys that occur in the present moment. Which is why I decided to put my work away today and visit this neglected but dearly loved, blog of mine.
Shawn Achor’s TEDtalk nails it. Our society tends to believe that the external world can predict how happy people are. We see someone with a nice job, a new car, a lovely house, a handsome lover, an ivy league education, etc., and we assume life must be good for them. Just like we assume, if we become more successful and have more nice, pretty things that we, too, may be happier.
This mentality is misleading, and it is time to break the spell as individuals and as a community and to start recognizing what really makes us happy. Shawn Achor’s TEDtalk mentions that 90% of our long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world (things we have/things we do) but by the way our brain processes the world (our internal self/our outlook). He goes on to illustrate how our personal and collective perspectives can impact the world within us and around us.
He explains that by raising positive thinking and optimism in the present moment, instead of focusing on future-oriented/desired success, we will become happier living in the moment. This resulting happiness and shift in perspective activates all learning centers in our brain and raises our intelligence, creativity, and overall energy.
While his talk is framed around how we can improve our success at work, it really is about how we can improve and reclaim the direction of our life, health, and happiness. Which direction will you take?
Shawn’s Recommended Exercise: Train your brain to become more positive by making optimism a habit. Try out all or any of these 5 activities for 21 days, and you will be on your way to teaching your brain to scan for the positive rather than the negative.
1. Write out 3 gratitudes a day.
2. Journal about a positive experience you had each day.
3. Make time for exercise – it helps remind you that behavior does matter.
4. Meditate to help you overcome your culturally acquired ADHD.
5. Perform random acts of kindness, practice compassion. It makes you and the world happier.
If you need to be reminded how important it is to raise your optimism levels in the present moment and let go of the illusion that success = happiness, then this is the video for you. I highly recommend.