Choosing to be happy

A favourite author of the 10Eighty team, Shawn Achor, says “happiness is actually a choice for the brain.”

The better you get at scanning the world for the positive, the better you get at overcoming problems. It’s not that you don’t see them; you actually get better being able to rally the resources you need to be able to solve those problems as opposed to languishing in constant scanning of the world for the threats and hassles that need to be dealt with.

Given that the first day of this week may have been Blue Monday we’re posting some 10Eighty positivity.


Looking for positives

You can rewire your brain to make yourself happy by practising simple happiness exercises and within 30 days, those habits change the neuropathways of the brain and turn us into lifelong optimists. These six daily happiness exercises are proven to make anyone, from a 4-year old to an 84-year old, happy, or simply happier, Achor says.

  • Gratitude exercises – write down three things you’re grateful for that happened in the last 24 hours. Not necessarily profound, perhaps a really good cup of coffee or a sunny day.
  • The Doubler – take a positive experience from the past 24 hours and spend two minutes writing down every detail about that experience. As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint.
  • The Fun Fifteen – do 15 minutes of a fun cardio activity, like gardening or walking the dog, every day. The effects of daily cardio can be as effective as taking an antidepressant.
  • Meditation – every day take two minutes to stop whatever you’re doing and concentrate on breathing. Even a short mindful break can result in a calmer, happier you.
  • Conscious act of kindness – at the start of every day, send a short email or text praising someone you know. Our brains become addicted to feeling good by making others feel good.
  • Deepen social connections – spend time with family and friends. Our social connections are one of the best predictors for success and health, and even life expectancy

Making your own luck

Achor, in his inspiring book The Happiness Advantage, demonstrates that our attitudes have very real implications:

You are on your lunch break, waiting in line at a crowded bank for a teller, among a group of fifty people. A robber comes in and fires his weapon once.

You are shot in the right arm. Take a moment to consider: Do you count yourself lucky or unlucky?

“Lucky” people – those who are gratitude focused – reflect: It could’ve been worse. I could’ve been killed. I could’ve been maimed or paralysed. Negatively-focused people complain: I should’ve gone to lunch earlier. I could’ve gone to the bank another day. Why me?

Positive thinking has practical applications in the workplace, managers should lead in a way that increases employees’ happiness. Do this through acknowledgments and increasing people’s ability to do things that make them happy.

Happiness makes people successful, rather than the other way around and happiness is within our control.

Michael is Chief Executive of 10Eighty. 10Eighty is a career and talent management consultancy that helps organizations maximize the contribution of their employees by ensuring satisfying jobs and careers for their employees. Michael is a Human Resources professional, having worked in the National Health Service, Insurance, Commodities and Derivatives industries. He has worked within the career coaching business for fifteen years, both managing a £7 million business and delivering bespoke, one to one career coaching. In the last 15 years Michael has run businesses that have helped 75,000 people make successful career transitions. He is a frequent commentator in the press/media, which includes a range of topics on “successfully managing your career” and talent management. Most recent media mentions have included BBC South, CNBC, Radio4, Financial Times, City AM, Financial News, Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Grapevine and HR Magazine, to name but a few. He writes a careers column for People Management, a blog for the Human Resources Magazine and is a regular contributor to The Thompson Reuters HR Portal. Michael is known as a thought provoking speaker in the HR industry. In the last 18 months, Michael spoke at the Careers Partner International Conference, NHS breakthrough conference, NHS North West Leadership Academy, London School of Economics, University of Westminster’s Talent Management Conference, ICAEW Finance Directors Conference, CIPD learning and development conference and CIPD branch seminars. He is also Chair of the CIPD’s Central London Branch. Additionally is a non executive director of Marshall ACM, an e-learning company and the Total Reward Group, a compensation and benefits consultancy. Michael plans to publish his book “The guide to everlasting employability” in the Autumn 2012. He has just launched an iphone app “careers snakes and ladders” and an online interactive version of the book in collaboration with Marshall ACM to coincide the launch of his new business 10Eighty. Michael has a degree in Economics, a MBA from Warwick Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He holds an accreditation from the British Psychological Society for the use of psychometrics. Michael has completed the Fairplace Internal Accreditation Programme, the training element of which is externally recognised by the Association for Coaching. Michael Moran was until January 2012 Chief Executive of Fairplace and a main board director of Savile plc, the career and talent management consultancy. Fairplace is part of the Savile Group, an AIM listed plc. The Savile Group was placed 16th in the Sunday Times top 100 small companies in 2010.

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3 comments on “Choosing to be happy
  1. Marc Whitmore says:

    Great article. It really helps to look situations in a positive way and there are some excellent practical exercises to do.

  2. Thanks Marc. I love the robber example, especially since there is no right or wrong, it’s just how you think whether glass half full or glass half empty!

  3. Thanks Marc. Check out the new blog posted today.

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.