A 21-Day Challenge

Tuesday , 19, July 2016 Leave a comment

Every few weeks, a few colleagues and I meet for lunch with our boss to discuss a pre-determined topic related to leadership.  Yesterday we discussed the basics of positive psychology and the ways that making simple mindful changes in our daily lives can increase our happiness and, in return, increase our likelihood for success.

Our conversation was based on the TED Talk “The happy secret to better work” by Shawn Achor, which you can find here.

It’s only 12 minutes long and well worth the watch.

If you don’t have 12 minutes, here’s my greatly over-simplified summary… Research tells us that our external world accounts for only about 10% of our long-term happiness.  The other 90% is determined internally by the filters through which we see the world.  Similarly, long-term career success is predicted FAR more by internal factors over which we have control, like optimism, than by measures like IQ.  Achor posits that society’s model of “once I’m successful, I’ll be happy” is backwards, citing research that shows that happy brains are far more productive, creative, and “sharp” than neutral or negative brains.  Given this, he suggests that the happier we are, the more successful we’ll be. Very over-simplified, he calls this is the “happiness advantage.”

The goal, then, per Achor, is to create a  happier state for our brains NOW so we can reap the benefits that happiness provides.  He suggests 5 small changes we can make each day that will, over time, rewire our brain toward happiness.  They are:

  1.  Writing down 3 gratitudes each day
  2. Journaling each day about a positive experience from the day
  3. Exercising every day
  4. Setting aside time for meditation each day
  5. Performing one random (intentional) act of kindness each day

Sounds pretty simple.

During lunch, the boss challenged us to try the above for 21 days while recording our experiences to share with each other.

We start tomorrow.  I’ve created a color-coded chart in a portable journal where I can track my actions and record my thoughts (which, I expect, I will never use, in true ADHD fashion).

I’m curious, and I’m skeptical–but I’m on board to give it a shot.  Stay tuned.

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