What is Positive Psychology & How can it change YOUR life?


Everyone wants to be happy… Right? And now you can be!

Shawn Achor is a positive psychologist who gave a Ted Talk in 2011 which changed my life. His 12 minute Ted Talk is what made me want to study psychology and he inspired me to make an active effort to be happy in every aspect of my life.

Shawn found that if everything is known about your external world, only 10% of your long-term happiness can be predicted and that the other 90% of your long-term happiness is the result of the way your brain processes the world.

An important distinction for positive psychologists is that: the absence of disease is not health and in order to get health the formula for happiness and success needs to be reversed.

In most companies and schools the formula for success goes something like this: If I work harder, I’ll be more successful. And if I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier. Perhaps, as 20-something students you can relate to this: once you got good grades, now you have to get better grades.

This is a very unhealthy and unhappy way to look at success. Every time your brain has a success, you immediately change the goalposts of what success looks like. However, if you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what is called a happiness advantage. The happiness advantage occurs because your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises and your energy levels rise! All very positive things.

Shawn Achor has also come up with a number of quick and easy ways to train your brain in order to become more positive! So your life can be changed for the better. In just a two-minute span of time done for 21 days in a row, you can actually rewire your brain, allowing your brain to actually work more optimistically and more successfully.

  1. Write down 3 new things that you are grateful for every day for 21 days. At the end of that, your brain starts to retain a pattern of scanning the world that is for the positive first not the negative.
  2. Journaling about one positive experience you have had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.
  3. Exercise. It teaches your brain that your behavior matters.
  4. Meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we’ve been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once and allows our brains to focus on the task at hand.
  5. Random acts of kindness are conscious acts of kindness and make you feel good about yourself. For example, we get people to write one positive email praising or thanking somebody in their support network.

By doing these activities you are training your brain just like you train your body. In doing so you can reverse the formula for happiness and success and not only create ripples of positivity, but a real revolution!

Personally, I have tried most of the tricks suggested above and still do some of them! I found the most effective methods to be: writing down 3 things that you are grateful for and journalling. I wrote both down in a diary and in doing so I was able to read back over them whenever I was feeling down or stressed, or annoyed and remember that I have a good life. I recommend it to everyone.

Source: Ted Talk

By Olivia Hobden



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