The book I am currently reading, “The Happiness Advantage,” by Shawn Achor is a great book that I recommend everyone should read if you want to live a happier life. It practices the law of positive psychology. I have been slow in reading lately since I have been very tired these days and I only read on the bus and metro. It has already been two weeks now since I started reading the book but I am only halfway through it.
This book is wonderful in so many ways as it focuses on rewiring your brain and shifting your mindset to think a certain way. It focuses on the importance of using 7 principles to rewire your brain in order to increase your likelihood of success and happiness. The dogma today is that people often sacrifice their happiness now in order to have success later. You work hard in school to get good grades to be able to get a good job, make money in the future and be financially independent. They believe that after going through this entire process and finally reaching their goal it is only then that they believe they can achieve happiness. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Once you read the book, you will understand why as the book provides many examples why this is the case.
In simple terms, if you decide to use the 7 principles taught in the book to change your mindset such as gratitude, the Tetris Effect, exerting kindness and other psychological tools provided, you can actually rewire your brain to think positive and become more optimistic. It is truly fascinating how our brains work. It is all in our mindset and how we think. Our brains are malleable and we can trick ourselves into thinking a certain way. The way we think can also have a dramatic effect on our health. This was demonstrated in one of the experiments mentioned in the book where they took a group of 75 year old men and placed them in a room that replicated the 1950’s. Everything in the room was set up to remind them of when they were 50 years old. The participants were also expected to act the way they did when they were 50. The experiment went on for a couple of weeks (I cannot quite remember) and what was discovered by the end of it was that these men became healthier in many ways. Their posture got better, they were more active, their face even looked younger! The fact that they “went back in time” and “aged backwards” was astounding. All of this started with a simple change in mindset! . Now, I am writing this information completely based on memory so forgive me if you end up reading the book and the numbers are not exactly as mentioned.
These are just one of the many fascinating experiments that were conducted to test the capacity of our mindset. Another experiment that was conducted was the poison ivy experiment. Two groups of volunteers were created; one group who was highly allergic to poison ivy and the other group who wasn’t. All of the participants were blindfolded. The ones who were not allergic were rubbed a regular plant on their arm and told they were being rubbed by poison ivy. The other group who were highly allergic were rubbed with real poison ivy but told they were being rubbed by a regular plant. The results were profound. Those that were rubbed with the regular plant and told otherwise developed all the effects of poison ivy. The other group who were highly allergic were not affected. Only two people got affected.
What do these two experiments tell you about mindset? That it is all in your head. If you think it, you believe it. Two people can look at something and see two different things. One person on a hot day can think, “it is great that the sun is shining.” Another person can think, “It is too hot today.” Two people, two different mindsets. Which one are you?