Are you waiting to be happy? Maybe you tell yourself once I get that raise I will be happy, or once I hit the next sales target I will be happy or once I buy my dream house, lose ten pounds, or fall in love, I will be happy. Success first, happiness second. There is a problem with this thinking. It is backwards. Over a decade of research in neuroscience and psychology shows that happiness and optimism is a precursor to success not the other way around. In fact, happiness and optimism actually give us a competitive edge in business and in life that international bestseller Shawn Achor calls the Happiness Advantage.

According to Achor, when we are positive, we become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient and productive!

One of the best ways to train your brain to think more positively is to make a daily list of the good things in your job, your family, and your life. It may sound ridiculously simple—because it is simple—but studies show over and over again that writing a gratitude list every day has a profound effect on the way our brains are wired.

When you write down three good things—only three—that happened that day, your brain literally scans the last 24 hours of your life for any potential positive moments—things that brought you joy, made you smile, feel like you accomplished something, strengthened a connection with a co-worker or family member, and/or gave you hope for the future. This simple five-minute practice trains the brain to notice possibilities and opportunities for personal and professional growth. And when you notice the opportunities, you can seize on them.

Not only will you notice and take advantage of opportunities, a wonderful byproduct of practicing gratitude is that our brains begin to push out all the small annoyances and frustrations. In other words, you learn to not stress over the small stuff, because the good stuff is so much better.

This holiday season, embrace all that you are grateful for and enjoy the good stuff life has to offer.

About Shawn:

Recently, Shawn sat down with Oprah at her house to discuss the science of happiness, defining success and how we can bring the powerful research-based techniques of positive psychology to the world. To share the message that happiness is a choice, Shawn and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) created an in-depth, two-part Happiness Course to help individuals impact their own lives and the lives of those around them with the Happiness Advantage.

Shawn’s research on happiness made the cover of Harvard Business Review, his research and work on stress in partnership with Yale University at UBS was published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and his PBS special has been seen by millions. Shawn has worked with over a third of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as the NFL, the NBA, the Pentagon and the White House. His talks have taken him to more than 50 countries, where he has spoken to CEOs in China, doctors in Dubai, schoolchildren in South Africa, and farmers in Zimbabwe.

Author: Deanne Brown

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