“What is there to be happy about?”
With so much tragedy and loss happening around us, how can we even begin to deal with the latest Las Vegas horror? One question begs “What is there to be happy about and see the good in any of it?” In part one, Max Lucado USA Today article, Vegas shooting: The land of the stars & stripes has become a country of stress & strife, encouraged us to begin with immediate, specific, caring, sharing, and grateful prayers. Maybe we could then see the good more often and embrace what he calls “Unshakable Hope.”
Though we may find ourselves initially feeling overwhelmed with grief, tears, and even silence for a while, hope rises. We may also find clarity and freedom from fear as good is deposited from within and ripples outward to others. We somehow begin to see the good in people more than the evil in our world around us. So, how can we actually become the good seen in ourselves and others?
See the Good
In the previous article I mentioned discovering practical parallels between Lucado’s “Unshakable Hope” and Shawn Achor’s “Science of Happiness”. Achor’s video, The happy secret to better work, offers us some practical applications for not just seeing but also being the good our world desperately needs. Shawn Achor, psychologist, is the CEO for Good Think Inc. and teaches about positive psychology at Harvard University. He also has worked with over a third of the Fortune 100 companies and lectured in more than 50 countries, the Pentagon, schoolchildren in South Africa, and farmers in Zimbabwe.
He has also spent years researching “the science of happiness.” Yes, there is a science to happiness in the way our brains respond to our external world. And I agree . . . simply thinking positive thoughts won’t get us very far unless we put it in context to Lucado’s guiding words for “Unshakable Hope” and Achor’s “Science of Happiness.”
Achor may consider the question, What is there to be happy about, assumes “. . . that our external world is predictive of our happiness levels, when in reality, if I know everything about your external world, I can only predict 10% of your long-term happiness. 90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.” Achor continues with most successes on the job and with life “. . . are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.”
In his research across the globe, Achor reports “We're finding it's not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.” Allow me to extend this outcome to our own personal lives and our nation. I would bet Lucado and Achor would agree.
Change Your Lens, Be the Good
Achor offers the following tools for “working” at life that creates lasting positive change for the mind, heart, and behavior. These seemingly small changes have an outward ripple effect in us all.
- 3 Gratitudes - Write down three new things each day you are grateful for, 21 days in a row. Your brain will start to retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.
- Journaling – Writing down one positive experience every 24 hours allows your brain to relive it, rewires your brain to actually work more optimistically and successfully.
- Exercise - Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior 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 – These are conscious acts of kindness. Open up your inbox and write one positive email praising or thanking somebody in your support network. Write a letter or card. Be creative.
The focus for Lucado is on faith beyond ourselves toward God. How does Lucado’s immediate, specific, caring, sharing, thankful prayer guiding words relate to Achor’s “working” at life tools for making lasting positive change? With faith . . .
- Through the lens of our 3 Gratitudes, we are Immediate and Thankful as our mind and heart look more for the positive first.
- We then Journal our Specific gratitudes alongside our concerns so the wrongs are put in perspective, our thoughts become more positive, and gratitude more often prevails.
- We Exercise to demonstrate we Care for our bodies, that behavior does matter, strengthening our body and mind, and benefiting ourselves and others.
- We Meditate to be more Specific and focused with our thoughts and actions on what is most important.
- Through Random Acts of Kindness, we demonstrate Sharing and compassion for others.
As Lucado said, “Anxiety comes with life, my friend, but it doesn’t have to dominate your life.” I believe we all have a chance to forever change the lens of our reality and the lives of others for the better. In the middle of your powerful, positive “Unshakable Hope” prayers and Achor’s “Science of Happiness” tools, you may just meet a friend or two along the way. I know this is what I needed this week. I hope it will do the same for you.