Principle One could
Some people might say happiness is caused by success or achievement. This is not the truth in our society today. Having success or achievement does not automatically transfer into happiness all the time. Granted, it will turn into happiness and enjoyment sometimes, but not a consistent number of occurrences. Also, happiness is not that your personal life and everything surrounding you must be great and fantastic. As Shawn Achor wrote in The Happiness Advantage, the joy one feels striving for one’s potential. The happier the person is, the more successful the person can be.
Principle one could be one of the most important principles in this whole book. The happiness advantage is broken down into three different concepts: meaning, engagement, and pleasure. Being positive releases chemicals into the brain to help the brain retain information and have it memorized for a lengthy period of time. Positive thoughts can lead to more open ideas and thoughts rather than a narrow range of suggestions.
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In the article, The 7 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Your Happiness Right Now, Chassity states that doing a good deed for someone else’s benefit will help increase the mood of a person by something as little as opening a door for someone or as big as donating money to someone in need. Picking one day each week to commit a random act of kindness leads to an increase of happiness. Knowing that the person in need is one step closer to having a good life is all it takes the be able to brighten up the day.
Also in principle one, he mentions that finding something to look forward to can help improve the mood of individuals, such as watching a favorite movie. Igniting the brain of thinking of something to look forward to can increase the positivity of the incident.
A significant benefit of doing simple activities that yield pleasurable emotions is that emotions change thoughts. As I’ve written previously, the evolutionary purpose of positive emotions is that they signal to us that our current environment is safe enough that we can prepare for the future. Positive emotions lead to having broader, more flexible ideas and more generous, community thoughts and behaviours. Positive emotions lead to us seeing greater opportunities, investing in our relationships and thinking more creatively.
In principle two, Achor talks about the fulcrum and the lever effect. People can’t change reality through sheer force of will, but we can use the brain to change how we process our lives and everything surrounding them, and how that changes our reaction to the situation. Happiness is not about lying or being mischievous to ourselves, or ignoring the negative in every minute of every day, but about adjusting our brain so that we see the ways to rise above our negative setbacks and strive to achieve more than just settling.
Our power to maximize our happiness is based on two things. These things are the length of our lever, how much potential and possibility we believe we have, and the position of our fulcrum. The mindset with which we generate the power to change our life with happiness. By changing the fulcrum of our mindset and lengthening our lever of possibility, we change what is possible.
Happiness is experienced by living. It is an emotion brought about by experiences. It happens when you actively participate in your reality, not when you meticulously plan out every second. It doesn’t have a price tag. Happiness is not expensive or calculated.
Psychological studies have shown that extrinsic aspirations such as fame and riches don’t promote happiness, but instead can actually undermine it. On the other hand, it is shown that intrinsic aspirations such as building relationships and having experiences promote well-being.
Now don’t go quitting your job in search of endless experiences. This may be a little bit unrealistic in our terms of society but I implore you to focus on the present. Enjoy your experiences, make new friends, and strengthen old bonds. Explore. Don’t work your life away in order to have the newest trend because you’re going to look back and smile when you think of that late-night adventure, not that brand new Xbox one or new pair of sneakers that just came out yesterday.
Principle three is one of the most important, if not the most important chapter in this whole book. Looking for the positive in life can lead to a successful and happy life. Looking for the negatives in life can result in an unsuccessful life with a lot of sadness with no happiness. Building the happiness up, like tetris blocks, can help create a successful life.
The unfortunate superpower of the negative is that it has a stronger impact than the positive. In fact, negative impact of setbacks in your work is three times as powerful in affecting motivation than positive progress. It’s just easier to remember the bad stuff that’s happened to you during the day than the good.
Our brains actually wired to pay more attention to negative experiences. It’s a self-protective characteristic that everyone has in their brain. We’re scanning for threats from when we used to be hunters and gatherers in the past. But such vigilance for negative information can cause a narrowing, downward spiral and a negative feedback loop that doesn’t reflect reality.
Fortunately, we aren’t doomed by our natural disposition towards negativity. What’s amazing is that we have the ability to break out of that negative feedback loop and we can actually rewire our brains to think positively. Understanding how the brain can refashion its own connections is the key to unlocking the durable power of positive thinking.
Anyone who’s ever played the classic game of Tetris will know this. Whether on a clunky computer or gameboy or the latest mobile device, we all know the game’s ability to spill into real life. After you shut off the game, you still see those Tetris blocks falling in your mind’s eye. You’re grocery shopping and find yourself thinking about rearranging items on grocery shelves and the carts in the parking lot. Somehow your mind continues to play the game, even when you’re physically not. This is how the positive effect is set in place. Seeing all of the positive built up will become a habit and will continue to happen even when you are not thinking about it either.
The last principle is falling up when knocked down by all of the negative. Self-encouragement and determination are two of the most important aspects of how to fall up to happiness. When knocked down over and over and over again, it is important to be picked back up and having positive thoughts, not negative thoughts.
Our minds can easily see when we face adversity or a setback that we can keep doing what we’ve done and keep getting what we’ve been getting in terms of results. The mind can also conceive of worse case scenarios where we could do something that would put us even worse off than we are now. These two paths are readily available and most can see these two and often choose the current path because it’s better than the worst case.
Yet, there is a third path and that is one that leads us to growth and a better future. Achor refers to this as Falling Up. Finding the path to a better future can be difficult to find during challenging times. When you have a negative physical diagnosis, hardship in your relationship, or you’ve lost your job seeing the bright side of things isn’t easy.
Reading this book has changed my life in many ways. I have learned that there are more connections to happiness and success than I knew about, such as exercising and meditating. Knowing all of the principles of happiness, I have decreased my stress levels and become more organized in my life. Focusing on myself and not just striving for success has helped me become happier and optimistic.