Are You Broadcasting Happiness?

Disrupt Negative Thinking and Revamp Your Broadcast

 

Do you know someone who is always negative?

Is it possible to inspire happiness in others?

 

Michelle Gielan, former national CBS News anchor turned positive psychology researcher, is the best-selling author of Broadcasting Happiness: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change. She is the Founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research.

I recently had the opportunity to ask speak with her about her fascinating research into happiness, positivity, and our impact on others.

 

How positive you are on social media depends on your news feed so choose your friends wisely.

 

Create Positive Change

You’ve been a successful broadcaster at CBS News. But your work now is about a different type of broadcasting. You say we broadcast happiness and that creates positive change in those around us. How did this realization come to you?

People talk about how negative the news can be—and they are right. As the anchor of two national news programs at CBS, I saw how not only were the stories largely negative but also told in a disempowering way. We rarely talked about potential solutions.

At the height of the recession, we started broadcasting solutions for every problem we featured. We called it Happy Week. Drawing on positive psychology, the series centered on actions taken to foster happiness (and quite frankly peace of mind!) during some of our biggest financial challenges.

We received the greatest viewer response of the year, but more importantly, this was a powerful example of research in action. I wanted to know more about creating empowerment in others—so I quit to study positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Now as a positive psychology researcher, I see the toxic effects of a constant stream of negative news on the brain. In a study I conducted with researcher Shawn Achor and Arianna Huffington, we found that watching just three minutes of negative news in the morning can lead to a 27% increased chance of you having a bad day as reported 6-8 hours later. The negative mindset we adopt first thing sticks with us all day.

 

Study: Watching 3 minutes of negative news in the morning increases the likelihood of a bad day.

 

But CBS News also showed me a better way—which is something I now share at talks at companies and organizations—specifically how to talk about the negative in a way that leaves people feeling empowered and ready to act. In our follow-up study published in Harvard Business Review, we found that by pairing a discussion of problems with solutions, you can fuel creative problem solving in someone else by 20%. For managers, this means you can talk about the negative without decimating your team.

Looking at all this research, I had an epiphany: we are all broadcasters. What’s your broadcast? As you move throughout your day talking to your colleagues, family and friends, where do you focus their attention? Some facts and stories fuel success; others don’t. In my book Broadcasting Happiness: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change, I share the science and tools to disrupt negative thinking and revamp our broadcast to fuel success at work and beyond.

Using the science, our clients have been able to increase sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars. Personally, I’m so happy I now get to broadcast these kinds of stories about individuals and organizations creating positive change. This is so much more inspiring.

 

Study: Optimists at work are 5x less likely to burn out than the pessimist.

 

The Work Optimist, you point out, is five times less likely to burn out and three times more engaged than the pessimist. Is it possible to move up the continuum and be more positive? What techniques work to do this?

Michelle GielanYes! The most inspiring thing about the results of our research is that many of the elements of our mindset that predict success, like Work Optimism, are malleable. Work optimism is the belief that good things can happen, especially in the face of challenges, and that our behavior matters. We created a validated assessment that tests people on their levels of Work Optimism and two other predictors of long-term success at work.

If you find you’re scoring lower than you wish on Work Optimism, you can adopt a simple 30 second habit: Use the Power Lead. Make sure your lead sentence in conversations or meetings at work is positive. If you start conversations with how tired, sick, or stressed you feel, your body follows, as does the rest of the conversation.

We are taught to mimic the social patterns of others, so if someone starts a sales call with, “I’ve been swamped lately,” then both individuals start to feel more stressed and overwhelmed, which can oftentimes kill the sale. In our fast-paced world, you might have time to relay only one piece of social information at work. If you make it negative, then you get stuck in that pattern. Power leads can be simple, such as answering “How are you?” with some good news, such as, “Doing great! Had an awesome weekend with the family. My daughter scored a goal at lacrosse!”

 

“Cultivate happiness and you’re cultivating success at the same time.” –Michelle Gielan

 

What are a few ways to become a better broadcaster, able to motivate and communicate with power and results?

17 Benefits of Thankfulness and Gratitude

Thankfulness and Gratitude

In the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. That usually means overindulging in food, football, and family. It’s also a time to increase our gratitude for the many blessings we have.

 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” -Cicero

 

For years, I have studied the benefits of an attitude of gratitude. I’m amazed at study after study that demonstrates its incredible power. Gratitude helps us:

  • Reduce depression
  • Get promotions at work
  • Improve our self esteem
  • Increase our energy
  • Develop a strong immune system
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Increase sleep quality
  • Reduce and cope with negative stress
  • Eat healthier
  • Have deeper friendships
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve job performance
  • Become more likable
  • Reach goals faster
  • Increase feelings of happiness and wellbeing
  • Reduce negative emotions such as envy, hatred, and anger
  • Increase positive emotions such as love and empathy

There are many ways to increase gratitude in our lives. One of the best ways is to start a gratitude journal.

But, let’s face it: many of us won’t commit to doing that. So, let’s make this simple. Let’s improve our spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude right now, whatever we are doing, wherever we are, even if we are not celebrating Thanksgiving.

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3 Steps to Boost Thanksgiving

5 Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

If there was a drug with no negative side effects that helped you eat healthier, exercise more, experience less depression, and sleep better, how long would it last in the pharmacy?  We would flock to doctors for prescriptions.  The pharmaceutical company would have a hit.

It may not be a drug, but gratitude may be as important to your health as nutrition.   Let’s look at some of the benefits.  People described as thankful tend to:

  •             Eat healthier
  •             Develop stronger immune systems
  •             Experience more energy
  •             Demonstrate optimism and mental acuity
  •             Cope with stress better
  •             Describe life with high satisfaction
  •             Exercise regularly
  •             Solve difficult mental challenges easier
  •             Have deeper friendships
  •             Sleep better
  •             Have increased self-worth and self-esteem
  •             Show increased productivity
  •             Enjoy work and perform better on the job

There’s no happier person than a truly thankful, content person. -Joyce Meyer

Successful people practice gratitude.  After all, I don’t see how you can be called successful if you aren’t happy and thankful for all life has to offer.

Here are five ways to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”:

1.  Write it down.

Keep a gratitude journal.  Try it for 30 days.  Be specific about what you are thankful for.  Watch how your thoughts develop over time.  You may start out simply, but when you add stories and color, it becomes more powerful.

When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others. -Dalai Lama

2.  Talk about it.

Sharing what you are thankful for isn’t just for Thanksgiving.  Make it a habit to talk about what you are grateful for all year long.  It will reinforce your feelings.