A Place to Regroup

Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked about different approaches to positivity. But as we all know, life can be harsh, often repeatedly so. When that happens, when you take hit after hit, what do you do? How do you keep a positive outlook, or even just keep going? In the book Big Potential, Shawn Achor suggests the idea of building a mental stronghold. The idea is that this is a “stockpile of mental reserves you can always fall back on in challenging circumstances.” (p. 160) Admittedly, this is something you would ideally do before things get critically bad. But some of these activities could still be useful even if you’re already in the thick of these difficult times. Then when things are be

Looking on the Bright Side

At the end of Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, they have fun with the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” It includes these lyrics: “If life seems jolly rotten,/ There's something you've forgotten,/ And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.” I’ve been thinking a lot about that these past couple of weeks, as well as Shawn Achor’s suggestion in The Happiness Advantage to create a positive Tetris Effect. Because finding the bright side has been something of a challenge. But I’m trying, so instead of complaining about the negative things, let me first explain the Tetris Effect, and then see about the bright side. What’s the Tetris Effect? Some of you may be familiar with th

How to Keep Negative Influences at Bay

Last week I talked about how I’m doing some experiments in boosting happiness. This is based on the premise of Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage, that being happy makes us healthier, more productive, and more successful. But I also read another of Achor’s books recently, called Big Potential. In it, he acknowledges the fact that bad things do happen, and we’re surrounded by negative influences all the time – which can make it harder to remain positive. So he has a chapter about how to defend against negative influences, listing out a number of strategies. (He even talks about it like it’s Defense Against the Dark Arts – I love the Harry Potterreference!) And his first suggestion is

Does Increasing Your Happiness Make a Difference?

Have you ever been around someone who complains all the time? Who only talks about the bad things going on? And have you ever been that person? I’ve been noticing this about myself lately. Though to be fair, 2018 had some pretty crappy parts. At the same time it had some great ones – except after complaining, I often don’t get around to talking about the good things. I also realize I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking, “I’ll be happy when I accomplish X or when Y happens.” Do you ever feel this way? A lot of people do, but what’s fascinating is that according to Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage, we don’t actually find happiness by being successful or achieving something. Rather, b

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