Episode 22: The Pursuit of Happiness: a 2020 New Years Resolution with Julie Long
written by Julie Long (Founder and Counsellor) on 09/01/20
Happiness is one of the 6 basic emotions…and Shawn Achor defined happiness in his first book, The Happiness Advantage, as “the joy we feel moving toward our potential.”
A new year feels like a change which can bring new energy for new ideas and new habits. A while ago, I read the book, Before Happiness: the 5 hidden keys to achieving success, spreading happiness, and sustaining positive change and I thought it might come in handy when we think of our New Years Resolutions.
So what change are you looking to achieve this year in 2020 and how will you ensure you cross the finish line? Shawn Achor suggests we employ 5 skills:
1. Choose the most valuable reality: he encourages us to realize there is more than one way of reaching the finish line and we need to choose the route that makes the most sense for us.
The difficulty with this skill is that as humans we default to a negative mindset. So when we are stressed out, it’s hard to be flexible to find alternative routes when we encounter difficulty along the way. Shifting our negative perception about a stressful event takes practice. Shawn suggested we think of the 3:1 ratio where we think of 3 positives for every negative event that happens or to note 3 things that you are grateful for each day.
2. Map the best route to achieving our goal: one of the points he made that stood out to me was that most people map out their escape routes before their success routes if they even mapped out a route to their goal in the first place.
What is the why behind the goal? What will happen when you achieve it? If you could wave a magic wand, what would happen when the goal is achieved? And be specific! What will your life look like on an average day when you achieve your goal?
Research shows that if there is meaning behind our goal, then we are less stressed out in our efforts; we are more productive because have significantly more energy to engage in the work needed; and are more likely to actually achieving our goal!
3. Find ways to accelerate your movement. He suggested you ask yourself this question: What gives you the most energy everyday? If you look at each of the 7 dimensions of wellness, physical, emotional, spiritual, occupation, environmental, and intellectual, who are the people, where are the places, what are the activities or objects within each dimension that are energizing?
Once you have found those meaning markers, use them as often as you can. Post visual reminders in your office or home…type something encouraging in the note section of your phone, or set aside time in your schedule to review how you’re doing each month to make sure you’re still on track. Are the behaviour you are doing each day helping you reach your goal? What would one of your friends say about your efforts?
4. Cancelling out the noise – minimizing the negative things in our lives that are slowing us down from achieving our goals (mostly in our own minds) and maximizing on the positive.
For instance, if there is an activity or way that you spend your time that is distracting you from achieving your goal then eliminate it. Like watching TV in the evening instead of researching a new meal to make for dinner the next night. When you drive to work, have the radio off for the first while or when you are watching TV, mute commercials or only watch the news that’s relevant to you. Maybe take an hour each week to declutter your home so only the objects you see are the ones you use on a regular basis. All of these strategies help to reduce the noise your brain is needing to compute. If you streamline your world, your brain and body can utilize the energy towards advancing you towards your goal.
5. Transfer our positive momentum to others.
I’m sure most people have heard that we are a reflection of the five people we spend the most time with in our lives. When we plant the seeds of positive realities in our world, we can help others do the same. We end up helping ourselves in the process because their positive vibes will rub off on us which will help us even more!
Shawn Achor also suggested the 10/5 way where if you see someone 10 feet away to engage in eye contact and smell at them or if they are 5 feet away to actually say hello. I’m sure some of you can remember a moment when you are walking your dog or in the mall and someone smiles at you or actually says hello and the shift it can have on your mood. So it helps to pay it forward!!
At the end of his book he reminded us that even people like Einstein run into roadblocks on the way to their dreams.
If you’ve trained your brain to find the positive reality then it will become second nature to you. So when we find ourselves stuck, the best thing we can do for ourselves is step aside. Step back. Do something else to get out of your own way and the idea will come.
If you can incorporate at least one of the strategies, then you can change your perception which can then help to change your mind, your habits, and maybe even your life.
2020 will be a year where you can achieve your New Years Resolution. Go for it…You can do it!