Having a Positive Life Lens to Increase Personal Happiness

Shawn Achor, a well-known Harvard lecturer, happiness researcher, and TedX speaker, says we’ve got it all wrong. Typically, the world seems to hold as true the notion that our reality shapes us; what we’ve achieved or have determines our levels of happiness. But, according to Achor, this isn’t true. Rather than our reality shaping us, it’s the lens through which we view our reality that really has an impact on us.

According to research, only 10% of our levels of happiness can be determined by knowing about our external worlds. That small amount of reality may bring us a bit of satisfaction, but we keep setting new goals as we reach each old one. Therefore, we keep modifying our definitions of happiness; our brains simply can’t keep up with our ever-changing desires.

  • Wow, I got a good grade on the test; now I need to get a better grade.
  • I hit this sales target; now I need to hit a better sales target.
  • I got this promotion; now I need to get the next one.

Maybe, instead of always setting new goals, we should focus on the positives that we already have. This doesn’t mean that we’ll stop setting goals; it just means we should appreciate what’s in our world as it is today…regardless of any goal set or reached. Regardless of if we accomplish the goal or not.

Those who view the world through a positive lens secure better jobs, have superior productivity, are more resilient, and experience less burnout. And I would certainly rather see a doctor with a more positive outlook; those are the people proven to be 19% faster and more accurate when it comes to making a correct diagnosis!

So, how can you become more positive? Aren’t you just born with a certain happiness set point? Well, it’s true that we all have individual starting points, but anyone can actually raise their personal level of happiness.

  • Each night before you go to bed, try writing down three different things for which you feel gratitude. If you do this each day for 21 days, your brain will start to retain a pattern and will start scanning the horizon for good things. What a great habit for your brain to create!
  • Try journaling. If you write about one positive thing that took place within the last 24 hours, you’ll allow your brain to relive it. Just imagine; an extra dose of positivity!
  • Make sure you include physical exercise. Our brains need to know that our behaviors matter, and exercise will do this with the release of endorphins.
  • Practice meditation. Making this a consistent activity will allow your brain to take a break from the constant disruptions that are always coming at us from all directions. And, as Dr. Sandra Chapman from UT Dallas’ Center for BrainHealth has taught us, the Power of None is a much-needed experience for our brain health.
  • Try a few random acts of kindness. Thank someone at work, in your social circle, or in your circle of support. They might just appreciate your kind words so much that they feel compelled to pass it on and do the same for someone else.

It only takes two minutes a day for 21 days in a row to rewire your brain. Don’t you think you might be worth the effort?

Can you just try one activity for 21 days? I think you can; you got this covered!

Good luck!

Dr. W


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Photograph by Zachary Nelson.



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