548 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 4 JULY 2018
1) Every time your brain recognizes a success, you change the goalpost
for what success looks like. You got good grades, now you have
to get better grades. You got kept on after articles, now you have to
2) If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets
there. What you end up doing is pushing happiness over the cognitive
The problem is that our brains work in the opposite order. The lens
through which you view the world shapes your reality. If you can change
the lens, you can change your happiness. In other words, if you can raise
the level of your positivity in the present, then your brain experiences what
scientists call a “happiness advantage”, which has positive consequences in
all aspects of life. What is really important is the journey, finding out what
makes us the happiest, and regularly engaging in these activities to help
lead a more fulfilling life.2
CAN WE LEARN TO BE HAPPY?
Good and bad fortunes may temporarily affect how happy a person is, but
most people end up back at their set point level of happiness. Yes, you have a
happiness set point.3 Research of twins shows that about half of the variance
in happiness is genetic. However, despite the fact that there is a certain genetic
disposition to being happy, there are many things in life we can change in
order to increase our happiness. Fifty per cent is a large margin of manoeuvre!
Imagine if we could control fifty per cent of the weather or the traffic.
While we may each have a different happiness baseline, happiness is a
skill. Happy people have a set of skills that help them attain and maintain
happiness, a set of skills which you too can learn. For instance, happy people
do not waste their time dwelling on unpleasant things, they tend to
interpret ambiguous events in positive ways and they are not bothered by
the success of others.
CREATING LASTING POSITIVE CHANGE
There are ways to train your brain to become more positive. In just a twominute
span of time repeated for 21 days in a row, you can actually rewire
your brain and train it to work more optimistically and more successfully.
The following are five recommendations offered by Dr. Achor that will create
lasting positive change in your outlook on life:
• Think of or write down three things you are grateful for each day.
When you do this, your brain begins to scan the world for positives,
not negatives first.