People find me strange because I cycle to work each day across the desert.
Past a deer park, an ostrich reserve and through a Bedouin camel farm.
Over an hour each way in quite ‘warm’ conditions…
One of its many benefits is the time I have to listen to podcasts.
This week, I focussed on The High Performance Podcast which offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of high-achieving, successful individuals.
In it, organisational psychologist Professor Damian Hughes and sporting anchor-man Jake Humphrey share the non-negotiable behaviours the remarkable individuals they interview employed to get them to the top of their fields...and keep them there.
The line-up is stunning with military, sporting, performing and all-round legends, sharing their lessons and experiences.
Given most of my own work is in the high performance and detailed life success sphere – creating healthy, prosperous and most importantly happy people, is fascinating.
According to Shawn Achor in a TED Talk watched by almost 24 million, a focus on happiness (or at least positive mindset and emotion) leads to less burnout, less staff turnover, greater resilience, superior productivity, greater feelings of security, more sales, less costs and greater employee and corporate success.
Importantly, it also leads to greater engagement or ‘additional discretionary effort’ exerted into an endeavor – be that your career, your marriage/parental relationship, your community or yourself.
A pioneer in the field of positive psychology, Martin Seligman put forward an interesting theory of well-being in 2012.
This shows you can increase flourish by increasing Positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning and Achievement (called the PERMA model).
A large body of evidence shows things such as success or money alone don’t make people happy but happiness (driven via an internal positive mindset) is normally a precursor to money or success.
While genetics are responsible for our general PERMA settings (we all move up and down within our pre-set range) - we can all exert substantial control over the way our brain processes information (responsible for 90% of happiness).
Genes matter, but so do our thoughts and actions.
This means our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are over and above our general settings and the good or bad circumstances we find ourselves in.
Not only is this critically important for our own well-being, but those we interact with in life and business.
This has huge implications on things such as how we raise our children. I'm reminded about Jordan Petersons - 12 rules of life and in particular, rules 5 and 11:
Rule 5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.
Rule 11: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.
Here are some strategies/tactics for moving your internal PERMA settings:
- Meditation mindfulness– training awareness/getting perspective
- Gratitude journal – express appreciation for what one has as opposed to an emphasis on what one wants
- Random acts of kindness– can be as little as opening doors for people or always saying a signature hello
- Find out your signature strengths and deploy them to increase engagement (flow state via Clifton Strengths, for example)
- Develop authentic connections in the workplace – (e.g. have a 'one minute me') and even with strangers! Happiness comes from getting the right relationships between yourself and others, yourself and your work and yourself and something larger than yourself.
- Pursue self-concordant goals – run a 5K, 10K, marathon or ironman or something more challenging like climbing Kilimanjaro
- Regular Exercise– walking or my cycle to work!
- Treating yourself like someone’s child you are responsible for – think sleep habits, nutrition and stress management
Broken rituals (intentionally considered, precisely scheduled and consistently practiced strategies) or an uneven cadence generally impact where people sit on the dial between disorder, languishing, moderate and flourishing.
- Coursera: The Science of Well-Being – Yale University has made this course completely free – it’s a really good deeper dive on all of the above!
- The Happiness Lab
- Five Minute Journal
- VIA Institute on Character
My top books on happiness
- The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt
- Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar
- 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story by Dan Harris
- Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being by Martin E. P. Seligman
- Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy by Mo Gawdat
- A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B Irvine
- The Ripple Effect: Sleep Better, Eat Better, Move Better, Think Better by Greg Wells
- Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin E. P. Seligman
Helping people find ‘flow’ or increasing cognisance around the intersection between managing your capital (which can include time, emotion, energy and money) and the overlap this has with what is important to you, is my own big interest for the future of the planning profession.
Talking about financial capital and money…
Ben Carlson wrote about 10 things you shouldn’t care about as an investor.
It’s never been easier to pay attention to everything that’s going on with the markets, economy, individual companies or your own portfolio.
It’s more important than ever to filter out the stuff you shouldn’t care about as an investor.
Finally, I’d like to share another of Ben Carlson’s blogs. It’s about the notion of buying time – perhaps the most important part of your capital.
What’s the result of better productivity, money and efficiency if not to have more time?
This piece shares three ways to buy yourself more time:
- Pay someone else for tasks that bring you no joy
- Budget your time as well as your money
- Double down on the things you love to do
A question for you:
What daily ritual underpins your perfect day? Where can you improve?
This week's meditations
The path to a more positive mindset and a more enjoyable day (for everyone) in 8 easy steps...
- BE KIND
- BE PATIENT
- BE HONEST
- ENCOURAGE PEOPLE
- THANK PEOPLE
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Have a great weekend and enjoy the ‘light’ reading!
Shawn Achor and The happy secret to better work
Jordan Petersons - 12 rules of life
Dan Harris' panic attack on live television from ABC News
Ben Carlson: 10 things you shouldn’t care about as an investor and how much is your time worth?