Published on December 17th, 2014 | by Nancy F. Clark0
The One Thing Working Women Haven’t Realized
By Nancy F. Clark—
Today there’s one thing working women need to know that’s not getting enough attention. Getting your next promotion is not it. That next promotion will make you happier—but it won’t be long-term happiness. I’ve found that although I’ve been providing great content for women on my Forbes WomensMedia channel, there’s something missing. It’s something I’ll be adding, because today many women are more stressed and less happy. Yes, you probably know they’re more stressed at home, but did you know they’re more stressed than men at work? And to top that off, the America Psychological Association reports that 49% of women say their stress has increased in the past 5 years.
I won’t stop providing business skills that women need, but I now know there’s a missing ingredient that deserves equal billing.
Happiness training is the missing ingredient. It sounds soft and fluffy without true substance, but that’s wrong. In the last few years amazing new breakthroughs in brain research have shown us techniques that can change habits, attitudes, and that elusive long-term happiness. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor at the University of California, has shown that fully 40% of your happiness is available for you to control. You merely need to learn how.
Grow Your Inner Strengths
According to Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist, a member of U.C. Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center’s advisory board, our brains are hardwired to pay attention to the negative. Sure, we need to avoid those dire situations that caused pain in the past, but we don’t need to focus all our attention on worries.
Hanson talks about growing your inner strengths. You don’t ignore the negative things that happen to you—you recognize them, but you also remind yourself of something positive that you’ve also experienced.
Here’s what you can start doing today: notice something positive or beautiful and give it time to sink in. Savor it for 10 to 20 seconds. You can fit that into your busy day, can’t you? If you do, you’ve taken the first step toward changing 40 percent of your worried brain!
Don’t Compromise Your Happiness
Let’s talk about being too busy. Tal Ben-Shahar, professor of the most popular course at Harvard, How to be Happier, encourages you to simplify wherever you can. In 7 Lessons On Gaining The Ultimate Currency: Happiness, he says, “Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much. Knowing when to say ‘no’ to others often means saying ‘yes’ to ourselves.” So in case you’re one of the many women who want to avoid turning anyone down, justify that “no” by saying to yourself, “This is what they’re teaching at Harvard.” That should help.
When You Should Go Against Common Sense
There are specific techniques we can learn that will increase our brain function, but you’ll have to be open minded. That’s not just a pun. It means that many of these activities go against common sense. Here’s a quick example. Suppose you’re faced with a difficult task at work. Maybe you’ve been told you should firmly recite the affirmation “I can do this. I can do this.” Well, if you skipped the affirmation and asked yourself, “Can I do this?” you would be much more successful. The question activates a second part of your brain—the part that deals with creativity.
Practice Gratitude And This
When you think about making yourself happier, you probably know about practicing gratitude. Which is great and I’ll be showing you activities for this later. But did you know that doing a small act to help a stranger, with no expectation of a reward, gives the stranger a lift and gives you an even bigger lift. Dr. Judith Orloff talks about this in The Power of Random Acts of Kindness.
I’m giving you homework.
Here Are 5 Things You Can Start Doing Today
1. Stop telling yourself, “I’ll be happier when I get that promotion.” Keep working towards that promotion, but add happiness exercises to your daily repertoire. You’ll start taking control of 40% of your happiness.
2. Savor each good thing that happens, or a beautiful thing you see. Savor it for 10 to 20 seconds.
3. Follow advice from Harvard and say “no” to an unnecessary request.
4. Activate more than one part of your brain when tackling a problem by asking, “Can I do this?” You can repeat it silently, especially if you have an audience.
5. Make it a point to do one thing for a stranger today. You’ll make two people happy and anyone who’s watching. You’ll start becoming a Happiness Ambassador. (Please let me know what you did.)
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