I am the red dot.

A friend recently posted a link to Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s TED Talk, The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance, on my Facebook page. No comment, no explanation for the post.

I’m a TED Talk junkie, so I bit. (I’ve included it below so that you can watch, too.) Three minutes in, Shawn Achor – who is hysterical in every sense of the word – posted a chart of life’s outliers who manage to stay positive and resilient in the face of adversity. He joked and pointed to the “one weird red dot up above the curve,” and it hit me:

I am the red dot.

My natural set point is Happy. When I open my eyes in the morning, 29 days out of 30, I think: “What’s going to be great about today?” This is not because my life has been all Happy. In fact, it reads like a karmic to-do list:  the death of my brother, the death of my life partner, random acts of epilepsy, infertility, divorce, crazy bosses, homophobia, 80’s hair and blue eyeshadow, 28 moves … should I go on? (I could, but why bother – it’s not the point of this post.)

Despite all this, day after day, I wake up expecting the best.

I’ll let you in on my secret:  it’s NOT because I’m exceptionally happy by nature.

It’s the result of a lifetime of training.

Researchers call it The Happiness Advantage, and if you start watching at 9:15 in the talk below, you’ll see how the red dots do it.

“It’s not necessarily reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. 90% of your longterm happiness is not predicted by your external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And if you change your formula for happiness and success … you can change the way you affect reality.” – Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage

I know from years of practice that if you tell your brain what to think about your experiences, it will start to believe you. Bad always gets Better. (There are exceptions – see below the talk.*)

When you Expect the Best or find something to appreciate, even during The Worst of Times, The Worst can feel Bearable. Despair notices the sunshine on the windowsill, Doubt wonders if it’s a metaphor, and one day, Better opens a window to Hopeful.

Boredom, sick of watching reruns, kicks the door open to Positive Expectation, and whether it takes weeks, months, or even years before you can see it, Adversity boldly leads the way to Growth. Growth, upon love and reflection (and a big dose of Courage), inevitably leads to profound Gratitude and Appreciation.

It’s powerful stuff. It’s what we red dots live for.

Click to Tweet.

I want to hear from you.

Do you have a Red Dot Story to tell? Post it in the comment section – tell me about it.

* NOTE: If you’re experiencing Depression, I see you, I love you, and in this post, I’m not talking about you. No one expects you to think your way out of it. I’ve been there, too, and I want you to know that you deserve a different kind of love.

P.S. Thank you, Edie Reynolds, for posting this fantastic talk! I’m a unicorn, too.

7 thoughts on “I am the red dot.

  1. Lori Anne

    Oh yeah baby. Don’t just see the red dot. BE the red dot! Be. The. Red. Dot. Perception shapes reality. Love this Leigh. Thank you for sharing the happiness.

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  2. Andye Murphy

    A red dot unicorn?!?

    I love this post and must admit, I too find myself giddy to wake up most days. Not annoyingly perky, mind you, but curious, excited to see what the day holds.

    Adversity? yes. Family history of depression? That’s there too. But despite it all, I find the world a miraculous lil place if we can shift our lens to filter in the magic.

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    1. Leigh Hopkins Post author

      “Curious, excited.” Curiosity deserves its own post. I honestly think it’s THAT that wakes me up feeling so damn happy every day. There is so MUCH to know, to do, to learn, to experience … and hell, yeah – you and I both know that sometimes it’s just plain sucky to be here, but it’s the wonderment of how it will all turn out that keeps me going.

      I’ll take curious and full of wonderment over annoyingly perky any day.

      SMOOCH!

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  3. Kim Pechous

    Love this post Leigh. Red dot and a unicorn I own that !!!! Often I have wondered HOW can we help others to see the sunshine in all experiences. Being the sunshine is the answer I guess. Everyday is an adventure.

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  4. grannynee

    I finally got a moment to sit and really read the post and watch Shawn Anchor and he was hilarious, he was also spot on, (couldn’t resist it). I don’t wake up happy, I wake up slow and it takes me forever to get with the program of the day. I am not a morning person. And I don’t even want to speak to a morning person til 8PM.That being said, I do wake up curious as hell about what the day will bring, dog horking up rubber ball pieces, will my dripping faucet finally tip me over, what new disaster is going to be out there and ultimately what bizarre thing is going to distract me just enough to be grateful for my little weird world. Oddly enough it is usually weather related or color related. For me there is something about an incredibly dark purple stormy sky with the bright green of my laurel hedge in front of it that just turns my grumbly, cranky person into an awestruck person. The color combination captivates me every time. Or when in the fall the leaves are just the most iridescent golds and reds I’ve ever seen. Or now when I know there is new spring growth budding out all over the place I make it a point to see it as often as possible. I am not the sunshine but I truly do appreciate it when I’m hit with it and it changes my mood in an instant. I’m not necessarily a red dot, but more like a dot of many colors.
    Thanks again Leigh for posting such great stuff tho, I will be thinking of it for days now.

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