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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

positive psychology (jfb, g+)

a great 12 minute or so talk on positive psychology and which in summary says

we teach people how to eliminate weird/outlying data in a statistically valid way so we can find a line of best fit.  which is fantastic if we're trying to find out about the the average but less useful if we're interested in potential

we're creating the cult of the average with science. if we study what is merely average we will remain merely average

instead of deleting that weird/outlying data we should study it to understand why, and maybe from that we can glean info on how we can move the entire average up

or take the news on tv - the majority of the information is not positive it's negative. Very quickly our brains start to think that's an accurate ratio of negative to positive in the world.

so it's not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which our brain views the world that shapes our reality. And if we can change the lens ......

90 percent of our long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world but by the way our brain processes the world.  only 255 of job successes are predicted by intelligence.   75% of job successes are predicted by our optimism levels, our social support and our ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.

most companies and schools follow this formula for success - if I work harder then i'll be more successful and if I'm more successful, then I'll be happier.  but the trouble with this approach is that every time your brain has a success, you just change the goalposts of what success looks like (e.g. you got good grades, now you have to get better grades).  so what we have done is push happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society. and that's because we think we have to be successful and then we'll be happier.

but the real problem is that our brains actually work in the opposite order. if you can raise somebody's level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences a happiness advantage because our brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed. our intelligence rises, our creativity rises, our energy levels rise.  our brain at positive is 31% more productive than our brain at negative, neutral or stressed. you're 37% better at sales. Doctors are 19% faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed. 

which means we can reverse the formula. 

if we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains cam work even more successfully as we're able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.

there are ways you can train your brain to be able to become more positive over 21 days

3 gratitudes - write down 3 new things you're grateful for for 21 days in a row (at the end of that 21 days your brain starts to retain a pattern of scanning the world, not for the negative, but for the positive first) 

journaling  - daily about one positive experience you've had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to re-live it.

exerciseteaches your brain that your behaviour matters

meditation  - allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we've been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once and allows our brains to focus on the task at hand. 

random acts of kindness  - are conscious acts of kindness - when you open up your facebook or twitter or email - write one positive thing praising or thanking somebody in your social support network.

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