Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A few notes from my happiness talk

I'm giving a talk tonight for Ladies Who Launch on the Science behind Happiness. As I gather my materials, thought I'd share some of the tips I'll be handing out.

It’s your responsibility to be happy. Happiness isn't some thing you catch in the wind one day. And lose the next. It's in your control. At least about 50% - the other 50% is biological - so if you're born grumpy - you probably won't transform into twinkle toes, but you have the capacity to increase your life experience to be brighter and better.

Here are some tips:

Remember that the questions you ask create your reality.  Instead of seeking what’s wrong, ask appreciative question and find what’s right. We're programmed to see what's missing, not going to work, or unreasonable first. Try to reprogram and find the brilliance first. This applies to everything from your kids finger painting project to giving feedback to your employees.

Check your positive to negative ratio (take the PANAS quiz by visiting the website authentichappiness.org). Great business teams use a 3:1 positive to negative emotion, feedback, commentary.  Flourishing romantic relationships share a 5:1 to ratio.  This tool helps you become aware of where you’re at.  Negative emotions are much stronger than positive - so you need to outweigh them, or they'll weigh you down (are you loving my puns?).

You know this...but exercise makes a hell of a difference! Studies show that it can be as strong as anti-depressants.  80% of the chronic disease that people die from over the age of 50 can be eliminated by exercise. Also, don’t forget to sleep! If you’re too tired to enjoy what brings you joy, well…that’s depressing. 

Feeling down? Count your blessings! Write them down in a journal before you go to bed. List at least three things you’re grateful for and why. “If you’re grateful for what you have, you’ll always find more. If you focus on what you’re missing, you’ll find you never have enough.”

Act and your feelings will follow.
Legendary philosopher and psychologist William James discussed how your emotions follow your actions. So smile and you’ll feel better. This is also in line with “fake it, until you make it.” This is because your brain needs re-wiring to think and behave in new way. Action best reinforces your brain (literally) to make new connections.

Recommended Books
Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson
Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Why Good Things Happen to Good People by Steven Post

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