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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 September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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