Happiness – is it overrated and misunderstood by most?

If you visit here regularly you will have seen there is quite a lot of discussion about ‘Happiness’  There are arguments for and against the usefulness or not of using the idea of happiness as a tool for living.   Some commentators say we are over simplifying this happiness stuff and it is causing people to have unrealistic expectations of and within their life.

My opinion of that is that the commentary itself is simplified. Happiness is not a simple state to be in. Well, let me rephrase that. It is not uncomplicated. If we go to the source of our happiness we find that it is our brain.  Yes, I do rather put a focus on the brain because after all, that is what we use to run our lives which in turn is creating realities for us all.

It just so happens that we each have our own reality. If that is so, we might as well make our reality a happy one despite any challenges or sadness that we might have to confront and deal with.  This TED talk from Shawn Achor is refreshing, stimulating and intelligent. (And it’s only 12 minutes long) . It is also very entertaining so give yourself a break for 10 minutes to take a look. You might want to view it more than once as while it is entertaining in itself, there is much rich content to consider. In it he challenges the practice of looking for what is ‘average’ and we study that – why do we do that?

What might happen if we looked for the ‘above average’ and studied that?  He also talks about how so many people attach happiness to achieving ‘success’ – e.g. the next promotion, the next big house. when in fact we could learn to be happy and positive in the present. That is not to say, not continue to challenge and strive for growth. In fact, he suggests that by ‘being’ happy it allows us to be even more focused and productive.

Shawn tells us that only 10% of our external world predicts our happiness, as against 90% of our happiness is predicted by the way our brain processes the world.  This is positive psychology. Imagine what might happen if we started a movement to look for the positive as much as we get bombarded with the negative?

He also has some very simple tasks to do each day that trains the brain to look for different (positive) things.   I would love to hear what you think about Shawn’s approach.

 

Gai Foskett is one of two Master Certified Coaches in New Zealand. Gai specialises in executive leadership coaching.
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