Thursday, June 13, 2013

Creating lasting positive change

My partner Mike was watching a TED talk last night when I got home from my evening run. The talk was entitled ‘The happy secret to better work’ byShawn Achor and from what I gather the talk was about flipping the idea of success = happiness on its head, by working towards happiness, which in turn will bring success.
Mike was most struck by the list given at the end of the talk for creating lasting positive change.

The first check on the list for three daily gratitudes is a little trick I learnt years ago for finding contentment in the now. This idea has copped a bit of backlash recently, which is common after a technique becomes a fad; books like The Gratitude Book just look so cheesy I’ll never find out if they have anything good to say. 
Years ago I went out on a limb and listened to the audiobook of ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne, and now whenever I hear the phrase ‘the law of attraction’ the hairs on the back of neck stand on end, my pupils dilate and I look for the nearest exit to flee through.
It’s not that I’m not open to the concepts of the book; I happen to believe we do all subconsciously create the universe we live in and our thoughts CAN effect our world. I just hope that if we chose to use the power of our minds we’d do more than look for a Rolex or sports car.
So despite all the bollocks out there regarding gratitude, thinking of things that are positive instead of negative will obviously have a positive effect on your outlook.
Next on the list was journaling, and I’m sad to say having missed the talk myself I’m not sure why Shawn Achor included this one. I’ve recently started this blog as a form of journaling after being inspired by Leo Babauta of ZenHabits to write every day. I enjoy it mostly because it scares me; as a shy person putting my thoughts ‘out there’ like this is quite terrifying, and doing things that scare you definitely makes you feel alive.
Next on the list was exercise, and since I had just come in from a run I think you know I’m doing that one pretty regularly. I’m nearly half-way through my 60 kays in 30 days challenge and am just about on track. The science behind exercise releasing endorphins is well known and exercise also helps keep you fit and healthy, both of which aid in better mental health.
This leads onto the fourth point: meditation. Running is a form of meditation in action (as is a lot of repetitive exercise) and is also something that can be practiced anywhere at any time. Bringing your focus to the now, ‘mindfulness’ of the moment is meditation in action so you don’t need to sit down and formally meditate every day to reap the rewards of a calmer mind.
The last point is Random Acts of Kindness – oh no, here’s a gaping hole in my happiness checklist! Although I try to be kind to the people I work with everyday, random acts of kindness to strangers isn’t something I practice, or even think about. I think I’m having a good morning if I haven’t punched a random stranger in the face on the train in the mornings; I’m getting used to the crush but if someone coughs in my face my urge to kill starts rising.
Random acts of kindness to strangers is another thing that terrifies my mildly, why? People are odd and interacting with strangers is always fraught with the possibility of them latching onto you and wanting a weird conversation. Not the end of the world I know, so perhaps I’ll have to give this one a try.

Have you done any random acts of kindness? Who to? How did it go? What do you think are the positive effects?

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