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How Happiness Benefits Productivity at Work

How Happiness Benefits  Productivity at Work

Conventional wisdom says that if you work hard, you will become successful, and then you will be happy.

What science has proven is that happiness and optimism fuel performance and achievement.

You frequently hear “do what we love and the money will follow”. But whether you are an entrepreneur, the CEO of a publicly traded company or fresh out of college you still have bills and rent or a mortgage, perhaps a car payment  or payroll and you probably pay everyone who works for you before you pay yourself so how does happiness fix that? Here are some facts that will explain it

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Fact 1- The better your brain is at identifying positives, the greater your chance at success.

Input comes to us in 11 million pieces of stimulus every day. Our brain doesn’t just see things like a still photo from a camera. It is tasked with interpreting and processing all the input. Our brain has to decide what focus on. Thus your reality is a choice.

The better your brain is at using its energy to focus on the positive, the greater your chance at success. But this doesn’t mean you only have happy thoughts and experiences at work. It means you can choose to interpret most input as positive.

Fact 2- This optimism must be rational (but for 80% of us it isn’t).

What this means is no matter how much cold calling and following up and meeting and greeting and networking if you do, if you don’t have a great product, it won’t be effective. When you have a great product or service being happy and optimistic is the fast track way to success.

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I am sure you have heard the stories of Michael Jordan not making his high school basketball team and of Thomas Edison having 10,000 unsuccessful attempts before inventing the light bulb. The attitude here is the key. It wasn’t failure – it was one step closer to success.

Science shows that 80% of American men think that they would be in the top half of the population in their social skills. SeE the problem- there are only 50% in the top half but 80% think they are in the top half. This means happy people tend to overestimate their abilities and will actually have confidence in situations where they have no skills backing this confidence. Having awareness of this and calculating into decisions is vital to making accurate predictions for future success.

Do you have a FIXED MINDSET- believing you have all the skills you are ever going to have and that success relies of your current skill-set or do you have a GROWTH MINDSET ( this is not the same as ignoring your weaknesses or chanting affirmations) it is a mindset that says “ I may not currently have that skill but I can change through experience and application”.

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Fact 3- It is often the perception of stress and not the actual stress that derails you.

You know it’s a vicious circle when you have so much stress that you are stressed about being stressed. The definition we use at the Chopra center for stress is what happens to you when something comes between you and something you want. The average person encounters a minimum of 8 sources of stress in a day.

FIGHT OR FLIGHT happens when your body encounters stress

  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Releases stress hormones
  • Increase in insulin
  • Decreased growth, sex hormones
  • Weakened immunity
  • Clotting of blood platelets
  • Decrease circulation to digestive tract

Long Term Exposure to Fight or Flight can lead to

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  • coronary heart disease
  • anxiety, insomnia, addictions
  • diabetes, obesity
  • Premature aging
  • Infections, cancer
  • heart attacks, strokes
  • Digestive disturbances

Fact 4- We all have a base level of happiness but it can be elevated.

It’s like our happy homeostasis. Things like winning the lottery might temporarily change our happiness but scientific research has shown that our happiness returns to the prior level quite quickly unless we train ourselves to think differently. Nature accounts for approximately  40%, circumstances like having enough food, shelter, and not being scared for your life count for 10% and the remaining 50% is up to you. So really quickly, here are a few simple and scientifically proven steps to becoming happier

  1. Have a sense of purpose
  2. Feel connected to those around you
  3. Let go of the past
  4. Be authentic
  5. Have some fun
  6. Take mindful moments
  7. Be grateful.

Remember, work can be a chore or work can be full of joy, the choice is always yours.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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