When setting wellness goals, a simple starting point is often overlooked which greatly impacts our wellness potential: A place of happiness.
I recently read Shawn Achor’s Before Happiness and learned that 98 percent of our thoughts are the same thoughts we had yesterday, and 80 percent are potentially negative. We have an innate tendency to focus more on the negative than the positive. This stems from our prehistoric beginnings when responding to threats was significantly more important than taking the time to gaze at a beautiful flower. The good news is that each one of us is hard-wired with a genetic happiness starting point, from which we can easily rise above our genetic make-up and our environment by making positive choices.
Achor’s book provides a roadmap to increased happiness via strategies for shaping mental perspective. Since reading this book, I notice happiness almost everywhere I look. I am sure these concepts have always been with me, yet now I notice them more. Opening a portal of our mind to new ways of thinking unlocks a code which has always been circulating with us. Lately I have been consciously dancing to Pharrell Williams “Happy” and visiting 24hoursofhappy.com to watch happy videos. I even picked up a new magazine called Live Happy in which every article focuses on increasing positivity. All of these things bring me happiness and joy.
The biggest takeaway from the book is the fact that we are inundated with over 11 million bits of information per second but can only process 40 bits in that time. Our brains are bombarded with information and unless there is a conscious effort, our focus can veer towards the negative. This conscious effort does not mean omitting the negatives, but finding a balance. As we all have negative forces in our lives, we need to learn how to put them in proper perspective, since the way in which we deal with them determines success.
When issues such as lack of time or challenging family obligations impede our wellness goals, do we persevere or does negative self-talk ensue? We need to strengthen the tendency for positivity by taking any hurdle and consciously thinking of all the positive and negative associations. An example might be looking at a sink of dirty dishes. The mind can immediately think of the negative, yet working deeper
with thoughts, images of the soothing warm water on the hands while washing the dishes, or doing the dishes for another out of love brings happiness. By strengthening the ratio of positive ideas to negative, we can look at the work differently. When we are able to look at the world differently in small ways, larger successes seem more attainable in our lives.
I challenge each of us to strengthen our practice of positivity as our first exercise towards wellness. After we strengthen this for ourselves, we can help others, and slowly beauty will abound in all of us!