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.
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.