The pursuit of happiness pushes happiness away, like a snow plow pushes snow
I find myself more often than not, in complete sync with my favorite people, one of them is Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads, famous ad man with a whole school of like-minded amazing expert, and thousands of students.
Roy H. Williams is a Christian, and that bothers me, but it’s the concept that bothers me, not the man. He writes about the subject I have been pursuing on this blog for the past week or so… so here is his piece from today’s Monday Morning Memo.
By the way, the word “positivity” is as bad a bad word as negativity. It gives you suggestions to pretend. Please when you read this piece or the instructions, don’t translate it to pretense.
And the word choice, or choose are also bad words: you can’t choose something directly, you’ll see why in the footnotes.
By the way the value of the exercises is to direct your attention to what you like, want, or can appreciate. Not that you FEEL different. Just direct the attention, for a few minutes a day, to something that you normally ignore, take for granted, or don’t appreciate… i.e. don’t give it value.
“Happiness is a choice.” 1
Unhappy people get angry when I say “Happiness is a choice” because most of them have happily assigned their unhappiness to their circumstances, or their past, or an evil someone somewhere. It irritates them when I suggest they can simply choose to be happy.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but it can definitely be done.
Now let’s talk about you.
How often have you said, “I’ll be happy when…”
But then the desired circumstance arrives and it doesn’t bring real happiness.
Psychologist Shawn Achor says we tell ourselves,
If I work harder, I’ll be more successful. And if I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier.”
“The problem with this is that it’s scientifically broken and backwards for two reasons. First, every time your brain has a success, you change the goalpost of what success looks like.
- You got good grades, now you have to get better grades.
- You got into a good school, now you have to get into a better school.
- You got a good job, now you have to get a better job.
- You hit your sales target, we’re going to change your sales target.
If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. What we’ve done is we’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society.”
“But the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise your level of positivity in the present… your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we’ve found is that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You’re 37 percent better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster and more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed. If we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully, as we’re able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.”
I said, “Happiness is a choice,” an act of your will.
Will you let me prove that? We’ll need only a few minutes a day for 21 days.
Here’s what I need you to do:
- Write down three new things you’re grateful for each day.
Three new things a day, seven days a week.
According to Shawn Achor, as you approach the end of those 21 days your brain will start scanning the world, not for the negative, but for the positive first. Make this a habit and your happiness level will rise. Guaranteed.
- Each day, send an email to a friend describing something good that happened to you in the past 24 hours. It can be anything. Sharing it with a friend allows you to relive that moment.
You do realize that we’re re-training your brain, don’t you? All it takes is an act of your will. It will be awkward at first, but it will get easier. Stick with it.
- Send an email to someone – anyone – telling them what you like best about them, how they’ve inspired you, or taught you something valuable. Let that person know they’re important to you. Pick a different person each day.
One last thing. None of those emails can be sent to me.
Will you give it 21 days?
I’m going to go write down 3 things for which I am grateful and then I’m going to send 2 emails.
What are you going to do?
Roy H. Williams
Now, Roy H. Williams says: do it for 21 days. I recommend that you make this a permanent fixture of your life. The students that do well with my programs, that use well my articles, have one thing in common: they send me emails sharing what results they produced with what I teach, and tell me how much they appreciate the work.
These are not necessarily the same people that come to every class, by the way. They use the principles, or at least one, in the exercises, Roy H. Williams suggests that you take on.
You can foster growth, success, by adopting a practice as simple as the one above. You want to grow? Yeah, I am all for it. Do what is asked of you, and watch the results. Look at your results with kind eyes, and then let me know how you did…
Some of you take pride in self-deprecation. Some of you like to share how stupid you are. Some of you like to ask and ask and ask for more, for help, for information, and do nothing with it.
You can change your habits. Where you put your attention is what guides your life. Failure or results? Your choice.
- Ultimately happiness IS a choice, but if you look with more awareness than this generality says, you will notice that you don’t actually choose happiness, you choose what happy people do… and then you end up being happy too. But you think if you choose smiling or jumping around, all the outward manifestations of happiness, it will do something with your innards… no. This “article” will end up showing you a fool proof set of habits happy people have that you can emulate