Vote Charlie!

The secret to better life

Posted at age 25.
Edited .

I’ve watched this video twice now, and for some reason it made me decide to write little blogs about videos I watch that make me think. This is mostly so I can review the thoughts I took from the video, hopefully helping me internalize them.

I stumbled on this one while watching a TED series called “Lifehacks” on Netflix with Travis, and it turned out more interesting than I thought it would be at first.

Shawn Achor gots a lot of laughs right away, touching on a few societal issues at the same time, and a bunch of quotes stuck with me.

He lead into talking about how our society caters to the average by showing a scatter plot with a clear trend and a single outlier.

“I can delete that dot because that’s clearly a measurement error,” Achor said, “and we know that’s a measurement error because it’s messing up my data.”

He said one of the first things we teach people is “how in a statistically valid way do we eliminate the weirdos?” This leads to the question of “how fast can a child learn to read in a classroom” turning into “how fast does the average child read?” And then things get tailored toward the average. People falling above just lose out.

This is why Achor focuses in his work on “positive outliers,” the people falling above the curve.

Then, Achor talked about a way we tend to limit our happiness. He said, “It’s not necessarily reality that shapes us but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.”

He said we need to reverse the thinking that “if I work harder, I’ll be more successful, and if I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier” for two reasons:

  1. Every time your brain has a success, you’ve just changed the goal post of what success looked like.
  2. If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there.

Achor cited research showing your brain at positive performs significantly better than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. He said this is because dopamine gets released, which makes you happier and turns on all of your brain’s learning centers.

How do we change our formula? Achor said we can “rewire” our brains automatically by spending two minutes a day, 21 days in a row, doing any of these things:

  1. Think of three things for which you’re greatful, which teaches you to scan the world for the positive first
  2. Journal, which allows your brain to relive postive things
  3. Exercise
  4. Meditate, teaching your brain to focus on the task at hand
  5. Random acts of kindness, like praising or thanking someone by e-mail

I would love to focus on journaling every day, so that might be where I start. But I’m sure I would benefit from all five!