The following post is a guestpost by Walter Chen, founder of a unique new project management tool IDoneThis. More about Walter at the bottom of the post.
The best thing about such a practice is its long-term effects. In one study, people who did a “three good things” exercise for a week felt happier and less depressed after one month. The study then did the three-month and six-month follow-ups. Not surprisingly, the happiest participants were the ones who had continued the practice throughout.
What this tells me right of the bat is this: There’s hope for us all! (Even for a curmudgeon like me who reacts to the idea of spending time trying to accentuate the positive with a growl.)
So I think a good way to see the positive Tetris Effect like learning a foreign language. It will be the most difficult and unnatural-feeling at the beginning. And yet, the rewards will make you feel unbelievably happier if you stick with it.
4 Awesome Ways to Change Your Life to Be More Lastingly Positive
Ok, now that we’ve been through the background it’s time to get our hands dirty. How can we put all of this into practice?
At the core, the Tetris Effect is about building a habit that becomes more automatic and therefore longer lasting. In turn, this will sustainably boost your productivity and creativity. As Achor notes,
“Happiness is a work ethic . . . . It’s something that requires our brains to train just like an athlete has to train.”
So with that in mind here are some of the top ways that Achor and others identified to rewire your brain for positivity:
Scan for the 3 daily positives. At the end of each day, make a list of three specific good things that happened that day and reflect on what caused them to happen. The good things could be anything — bumping into an old friend, a positive remark from someone at work, a pretty sunset. Celebrating small wins also has a proven effect of powering motivation and igniting joy. As you record your good things daily, the better you will get and feel.
Give one shout-out to someone (daily). I love this technique and it is also something the Buffer team is using internally. Take the positive things you’re getting better at recognizing and let people know you’ve noticed! Take a minute to say thanks or recognize someone for their efforts, from friends and family to people at work. A great way to go about this is by sending 1 daily email to someone. It can be your old school teacher, who’s advice you are now appreciating every day. A co-worker or someone you’ve only met. Show courage and say thanks, I love doing this and just checking in with a nice note.
Do something nice.Acts of kindness boost happiness levels. Something as small and simple as making someone smile works. Pausing to do something thoughtful has the power to get you out of that negativity loop. Do something nice that is small and concrete like buying someone a coffee. You can try and have that even on your to do list – have you done anything nice for someone today? I love this technique and it’s one of the most amazing ways to feel happier.
Mind your mind. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Opening our awareness beyond the narrowness of negativity can help bring back more balance and positivity into the picture.
The regular practice of mindfulness meditation has also been shown to affect the brain’s plasticity, increasing gray matter in the hippocampus, an area of the brain important for learning, memory, and emotion, and reducing gray matter in the amygdala, an area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety. Take a look at these tips on mindfulness and meditation to get started.
Over to you know. Have you discovered some of these techniques to focus on creating more happiness for yourself? I’d love your thoughts on this topic.
About the author: Walter Chen is the co-founder of iDoneThis, a simple way to preserve and celebrate progress at work, every day, that amazing companies like Zappos, Shopify, and reddit use. He’d love to hear from you on Twitter at @smalter.
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