Friday, March 15, 2013

The Happiness Advantage

So, the other day, when I was all "wo-is-me-ing," feelin' pretty blue, cause I haven't been able to nab an agent yet, Hubbs tells me I need to read a book. 

"Book? What book? I like books!" Says I!

Then Hubbs tells me the book is called The Happiness Advantage.

I'm pretty sure my face went from looking like a kid on Christmas morning, to Little Cindy Loo Whooo's when she found out the Grinch stole her Christmas tree. 

Great. Nonfiction. Whoop dee do. 

But Hubbs insisted, so I complied. 

YOU GUYS. This book is amazing! I'm not saying I'm all converted to non fiction, or that Hubbs is suddenly back in my good graces as far as book recommends go (seriously, he gave one too many hard core fantasy novels for me to trust his judgment anymore). But at least on this one, he was right. 

Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe. 

I used to sell pest control door to door... you know... when I was in college and desperate for money. At this job, I was bombarded with the whole Positive Mental Attitude whooo-raw. I  won't lie. I basically wanted to sock my team lead in the face everyday. His false coo-coo happy-ness routine was like another bag of Snickers the day after Halloween: Just. Too. Much. And I did NOT buy the sentiment that telling myself I was going to sell 10 accounts that day, would make it happen. 

But ya know what? After reading this book? I might actually be a believer... 

Some of my favorite studies: 

--75 Year old men AGING BACKWARDS
--Loosing weight just by being told that what you do burns calories 
--Severe poison ivy symptoms (from contact with a NON poison ivy plant), just by being told it was poison ivy

There was also a study that the author called "Give your Doctor a Lollipop," in which doctors who were given a lollipop before diagnosing a patient, gave the correct diagnosis TWICE as fast and more accurately than those who were not given a treat. And here's the kicker, they didn't even get to eat the lollipop! They just received one. Oh no... that's not all...

Research showed that 4 year olds do better when asked to just THINK about something happy before starting a task. And high schoolers who thought of the happiest day of their lives before taking standardized tests, scored consistently higher than their fellow students. 

Also, there was a study done with Asian women and math. A group of Asian women were given two math tests of equal difficulty. Before the first test, the officiators told the women to think of themselves as women, who traditionally score lower in math than men. The women didn't do very well. On the second test, they officiators told the same women to think of themselves as Asian, an ethnicity who traditionally does very well at math. 

What do ya know?

On the second test, those Asian women rocked it!

Now obviously getting published is not solely up to me. No matter how happy I am, I cannot simply smile Skittles and rainbows at an agent to get her to sign me. However, with these hard core positivity studies out there, think of the ways we writers CAN influence our work through positive thinking...

Listening to my favorite song before I start writing.... Telling myself that writing is the best part of my day... Repeating in my head that writing a great story is easy....

None of these things are hard to do... and yet, as research shows, it will drastically improve my performance. I may not be able to get an agent to sign me just by being happy. But can I improve my actual work through positivity? 

Given the ease of putting these theories to the test, I think I'm willing to give it a shot! Woot, woot!


Annalisa Crawford said...

I can see the logic. I've always considered myself to be a lucky person - I haven't won millions on the lottery or anything like that, but something has always turned up in the nick of time! I suspect your outlook on life has huge benefits - if you're happy/lucky you're more likely to see the opportunities than someone who's hiding under a duvet. I might have to check out this book!

Roxann said...

Julie, I love reading your comments! Seeing your smile in your pictures makes me smile. Good luck on getting published!

Julie said...

Annalisa: I've wondered that about luck... I have a friend who INSISTS that she has good luck parking mojo. Whenever she is out, she says she can ALWAYS find a parking spot. I've always wondered if perhaps she is just more observant than I am? Because, of course, she IS the goddess of parking mojo ( :

Roxann: Aw... Thanks! Just passing on the happy... one smile at a time! Haha ( : Thanks for stoping by... you're the best!!

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