After I got off the cruise ship from my recent vacation and stepped back into my real world, a certain familiar mundane mood came over me. In the past when I would feel slightly depressed, I’d picked up a self-help book and attempt to “fix” myself. I guess this time I got a case of cruise lag because I started reading “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor.
I still openly lament the fact that I can’t safely walk alone, cook on a stove and I miss I the independence I use to take for granted. Okay, that’s enough of that; I think you get my point.
To be honest, I believe that if all these things were somehow given back to me, I would automatically be happy. It’s similar to the way one may believe that happiness will come when they lose weight or get that big job or promotion. But the thing is when we do get it we are happy for awhile then the bar gets raised and suddenly there’s something else a little farther off into the distance we need to be happy again. It’s like a never-ending journey to “Happy Land”.
This book has presented to me an entirely new concept. I’m only on page 80 of 210 but this is what I got so far. It basically shows us how to leverage the power of positive thinking in our lives. It says that we must be happy first where we are and then you can be more motivated and productive. In other words, happiness precedes important outcomes and indicators of thriving. The most interesting thing to me is that our external circumstances predict only 10 percent of our happiness. It’s teaching me to constantly scan my life looking for positive possibilities dormant in every situation.
The book’s author goes on to explain different exercises and principles that are very realistic. No, I’m not talking about a bunch of positive fluffy mumbo jumbo. That’s not really my thing. The lady who recommended the book to me is also in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis and she said it has helped her cope. I took her recommendation to heart because a few years ago I think I may have overestimated the negative effects that living in a wheelchair would leave on my life. And so far this book has opened my eyes to new possibilities. I have new ways of looking at the same things.
I’ve decided to adopt an optimistic explanatory style to interpret the world I live in. I’m seeking out the positive. Something I don’t usually revert to. My husband once said that if I won the lottery, I’d be worried about paying the taxes! The idea that things are never as bad as we originally think is not a new concept. I just usually blow things way out of proportion.
Achor says it’s about using that downhill momentum to push us in the opposite direction. Now that seems tricky to me but I’m willing to give it a try. The question remains, can a change in my mindset really change the objective world around me?
“The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work” by Shawn Achor.