18574A Way to be Happier
- Feb 14, 2013(from Boston Metro on-line)
A WAY TO BE HAPPIER--Justin Dowd
In a 2004 TED lecture, Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert described a shocking study, saying a year after losing the use of their legs and a year after winning the lotto, lottery winners and paraplegics are equally happy with their lives. Studies find that three months after a perceived life-changing event, with few exceptions. Happiness remains unchanged.
Most assumptions of what will make us happy are wrong. Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think Inc., summarizes a nearly universal business and parenting strategy: "If I work harder, I'll be more successful. And if I become more successful, then I'll be happier. But here's the catch:-every time your brain has a success. Youâll change the goalpost of what success looked like. You got a good job--now you have to get a better job. If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. However. Achor's studies found a happy brain is 31 percent more productive than a negative, neutral or stressed brain. Therefore, happiness causes success, not the other way around. One powerful path to a positive state comes from something called the Tetris effect. When a person plays Tetris too long, his or her brain unintentionally and habitually scans for shapes in the surrounding world. Achor's method applies the same concept to train your brain to automatically recognize positive patterns. First, write down three new things you are grateful for from the last 24 hours. Second, record a current positive experience. This will Cause your pre-frontal cortex to relive it. Good observations and memories automatically release dopamine to activate learning centers and increase productivity.
After 21 days, your brain will habitually recognize positive patterns, similar to the way a Tetris addict sees shapes. MRIs reveal this habit literally grows positive emotion-processing areas while shrinking negative processing areas in the brain
Nobody understands the endless complexâ¢ of happiness, but if you try this two-minute trick even once, your dopamine receptors will thank you and you could potentially experience more long-term happiness than from winning the lottery.
Sort of reminiscent of Irving Berlin's "Counting My Blessings", no?
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