Several years ago I had the good fortune to have the following video recommended to me.
The Happy Secret to Better Work. Shawn Achor
The TEDx talk Shawn gives is funny, entertaining, and I know the research and advise are solid. I shared it with my team at work, and sent it to my boss. What he did next made all the difference to me and the team I lead. He extracted the five keys to creating lasting happiness, their purpose in the formula, and challenged me to take these steps with my team.
The list he sent me is as follows:
Small changes ripple outward
Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work
**Each day for the next 21 days**
- Gratitudes ~ Write down 3 new things that you’re grateful for.
Benefit: Trains the brain to scan the world for the positive first.
- Journaling ~ Write about a positive experience you had within the past 24 hours.
Benefit: Allows you to relive the experience.
- Exercise ~
Benefit: teaches brain that behavior matters.
- Meditation ~
Benefit: Allows brain to relax so that you can focus on task at hand.
- Random (or intentional) Acts of Kindness ~ One positive email to praise or thank someone in your social network.
Benefit: Causes outward ripple.
I took the list and presented it to my team and several people jumped in to help create a gratitude board, which had the words “What are you grateful for?” across the top. We had it laminated and hung it on our wall where anyone could write on it with dry erase markers. Each week we would wipe it clean and start a whole new list of things we are grateful for. I purchased small journals and pens for each member of my team to encourage them to journal about their gratitude and positive experiences, and they each got a small placard with the five action steps to hang at their desk.
We went almost an entire year weekly filling up the gratitude board and starting fresh each week. Even as interest waned, I continued with the gratitude exercise, posting each day on Facebook for an entire year, counting down until I had completed a full year of gratitude posts.
I continue to post to several social media sites and intend to do this going forward. This small daily exercise has radically changed every aspect of my life. I no longer dwell on negative experiences, but consider all I have to be grateful for. It allows me to look at the big picture and see how even in disappointment or frustrating circumstances, I have something to learn, an opportunity to grow, or to give. When there are problems to overcome, creative solutions flow quickly and easily.
As is typical with any work environment, my team has had many changes since our year of gratitude pursuing the happiness advantage. Friends left to pursue other opportunities, and we experienced a workforce reduction. Through this, I have stayed in touch with many of my former team members, and I am overjoyed when I hear of their successes and the many blessings in each of their lives. Some have shared what a profound difference the simple gratitude exercise made in their lives.
If you have not taken the action step of writing down three things you are grateful for each day, I would encourage you to do so for the next twenty-one days. You may experience shifts in perspective, decreased feelings of fear and anxiety, and an increase in feelings of abundance!