A Research Paper created by Heidi Gottlieb
(Cancer Survivor Life and Career Coaching, UNITED STATES)
Some people think if you’re happy, you’re blind to reality. Research shows that happiness actually raises every business and educational outcome for the brain. It pays to be happy. I am a Cancer Survivor, I know what it’s like to be in those places that most people worry about
being in, or if they have been there, they know how difficult it is-it can be a challenge to be happy. Statistically however, that while it’s difficult, it behooves us all to look at things positively.
Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage spent 12 years researching at Harvard, and is now CEO of Good Think, Inc. What he’s learned is incredible. He realized that training your brain to be positive at work is like training your muscles at the gym; the key is to make it a habit. Of course many of us are born more positive than others, but it’s great to know that this is something we can learn, especially when things aren’t going so well. You can create “life habits”. In The Happiness Advantage he suggests several things to begin that training:
- Write down three new things we’re grateful for each day
- Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience we’ve had over the last 24 hours;
- Meditate for two minutes, focusing on our breath going in and out, and also;
- Provide social support in our community and at the office.
These things are easy enough and apparently bring tremendous life altering results.
In the midst of the worst tax season in history, he did a three-hour intervention at auditing and tax accounting firm KPMG. He described how to reap the happiness advantage by creating one of these positive habits. Four months later, there was a 24% improvement in job and life satisfaction. Not only is change possible, this was one of the first long-term ROI (return on investment) studies proving that happiness leads to long-term quantifiable positive change.
A study, published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that those who reported feeling happiest, had a 35% reduced risk of dying compared with those who reported feeling least happy. There’s definitely something to the connection between feeling happy and being healthy.
So, if we can prioritize positivity, we can become happier. I like this idea. We can work through our challenges and see the brightside. This is very much what coaching is about; it is this feeling of empowerment that is so important to cancer survivors who may feel as though we’ve lost our way; or we’re very glad to be in the world, but don’t know where we fit in anymore. Happiness is key.
Laura Kubanksy, Harvard School of Public Health professor of social and behavioral sciences said “everyone needs to find a way to be in the moment, to find a restorative state that allows them to put down their burdens.” This is so true. But how many of us do this? If we really believed that Happiness equals Health we would be more inclined to do so.
I find all this information inspiring. It makes me feel as though if you think about how grateful you are, and you write down your inspiring thoughts every morning; you meditate; you do social service; you exercise and you eat right, you will be happy and you will be healthy. I can do that. I will go for my yearly MRI, I will take my medications and I will live to be much older. Right?
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big believer in positivity, I don’t think I’d be here if I wasn’t, but I don’t think that those that are told their devastating diagnosis on that oh so unforgettable day are all handed it because they hadn’t lived positive lives, or that they didn’t exercise or eat well, or that they didn’t do social service. There are those that lived those lives and still received that unwanted mind-blowing news. What I do feel is that once one is handed such dreadful news, that there are ways of dealing with these things. There are ways of looking at situations, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it is extremely helpful to look at things on the positive side. Why not? Happiness equals Healthierness-it’s not a word…I know, but I will use it here. When you’re fighting for your life, you have to use everything you’ve got. Why not throw happiness into the mix?