The Big Idea
Your happiness affects your productivity
Questions I Answer
- How can I be more optimistic?
- How will being more optimistic increase my productivity?
- Does happiness affect my work?
- How does happiness affect my employees?
Actions to Take
- Watch this week’s TanyaTV video on changing your mindset and achieving happiness
- Start shifting your perspective, changing your mindset and start filtering information to find the positive in it.
Key Topics in the Show
Lazy vs. Intentional: How your actions and emotions make all the difference
Choosing positive, intentional thoughts
Identifying negative loops & consciously shifting your mindset to optimistic
Top 5 practices to help you finally shift your perspective
Resources and Links
- The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Acor
Welcome to season seven of Productivity Paradox from Press, a podcast focused on using productivity not just to get more done, but to accomplish what’s most important. Join Tanya this season as she focuses on cultivating happiness through the power of productivity.
To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to Press.com/podcast. And now, here’s your host, Tanya Dalton
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, owner of Press and this is episode 80. Last week was the start of our brand new season, season seven, where we’re talking all about cultivating happiness through productivity. Now, as you know, I define productivity not as doing more, but doing what’s most important. Which means, you’re going to end up happier at the end of your days. So, happiness is a topic I’ve really wanted to cover and really go in depth with for quite some time. And today, we are talking about shifting our perspectives. This is an important topic, I think, when we talk about happiness because our perspective is how we view the world. If we’re constantly filtering our environment finding negative things, it’s really hard to be happy.
So, I wanna talk today about shifting that perspective and maybe changing the way that you look at things. We can always find reasons to have a negative mindset. We fail at something. We’re overwhelmed. We don’t reach our goals. Maybe we experience a loss, and our inner critic takes over. It starts telling us that we’re incapable of any success or that we don’t even deserve success at all. We need to watch out for this inner critic, because there are just as many reasons to have a positive mindset as there are to have a negative mindset. It’s just easier to slip into these negative thoughts when we’re living on autopilot, and we’re seeing other people’s things and their accomplishments, and their relationships, and all the obstacles in our way to get those same things.
When we’re aware instead of the positives, it’s easy to see that there’s so much that we do have. Our experiences, our family, our friends, our memories, our personal strengths, our skills, and our talents. Changing your life situation and your circumstances sometimes isn’t possible or at least isn’t possible in the short term and if that’s the case then we need to focus on our mindset. We need to shift our perception, our belief, or our opinion about the situation. This allows you to grow beyond the things that you can’t really control and change your attitude towards them instead. We all get stuck in bad habits where we don’t focus on the right things. That includes me. We people please or we victim mindset. We needlessly worry, and we spend time sometimes with toxic people and indulge in negative self-talk, or is that just me that talks badly to myself. I don’t think it is. We need to recognize this and break these habits.
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When you think about something repeatedly, especially ruminating on negative thoughts, you begin to personally identify with, and eventually believe in those thoughts even when they aren’t true. This shapes not only your inner reality, but also your outer reality. We need instead to choose positive and intentional thoughts. Start paying attention to the way that you talk to yourself, and how you talk to others. Asking yourself if what you’re saying is true at all. For instance, if you call yourself lazy, is that true or is it just an excuse? After all, lazy is a choice. It’s not necessarily always a bad one. I think we can all agree that a lazy summer day is a wonderful thing. If you’re intentionally creating space or slowing down your pace, I would encourage you not to use the word lazy, because it has a bad connotation. Make it clear that you are choosing this. I want you to own it. If you are slowing down, which I think is a great thing to do, don’t call yourself lazy. Call yourself intentional. I think there’s a really big difference in how you phrase it to yourself.
The bottom line is you can’t control reality, but you can control how you react and respond to everything. Tough times and hardships are inevitable in everyone’s lives, but how we view what we’re going through, that is completely up to us. We need to realize nothing really lasts forever, low seasons in our life included. Our lives have these ups and downs, these peaks and these valleys and sometimes when we’re in a low, it feels so deep that we think we’ll never climb out. Right, we’ve all been there. But you know what, we will. If you look at the patterns at the breadcrumbs of your life, you’ll see that again, and again, and again, we do experience highs after the lows. We have to look upward and forward and not just sit there in the pit that we’re in.
If you always have a chance to find the bright side in your situation, no matter how tough it seems, that can really make a difference. Identifying the positive of your experience will help you find the lesson hidden among the pain. It’s important for your long term happiness and your success that you’re able to recognize when you’re thinking negatively, when you’re in these negative loops and consciously shift your mindset to get to the positive. Look back at your progress each week by looking through your planner and your habit trackers. Studies show that seeing our growth and or progress can actually increase our happiness.
This is one of the reasons why including a habit tracker in planners was really important to me. We need to see our breadcrumbs. We need to be reminded of where we’ve been. I think it’s so easy at the end of the day, or the end of the week, or even the end the year, to forget everything that we’ve done, all the good we’ve done. It’s easy just to focus on the negative. When you take the time to really track this for yourself, it’s really hard to argue with the data, right. When you’re tracking it and you look back, it’s really easy to see your highs as well as just your lows. A lot of people struggle with this, finding the good, reminding themselves of where they’ve been.
As a matter of a fact, you might be receiving negativity from people that you know. So, ask them why it is they feel negative. Ask yourself if you’re on the same path that they’ve been on. If the answer is yes, ask them about their experiences. That could actually help them and help you at the same time. If they have been on the same path, get some advice on where this negativity is coming from in their own experiences. See if they actually have some helpful advice they’d like to give but are just having a hard time giving it in a positive or helpful way. Sometimes when we have
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these negative experiences, it’s really hard to get out of that and share our experiences in a positive way.
I want you to ask yourself too, if you can learn something through their experiences. Use the unfiltered lens of an outsider to really see the choices that they made. Sometimes it’s easier to see it in others than it is to see it in ourselves. Then use that as a springboard for making your own choices and even how you want to look at situations. You see, we need to flip the script from enduring to enjoying.
Laura Vanderkam in her new book Off The Clock shares a great example of this. She talks about this idea of winter. No matter where you are, you probably have thought at some point that winter is cold, dark, and quite frankly depressing. But I want you to compare your own winter to what winter is like in the northern parts of Scandinavia. Where winter stretches on for months, and months, and months. And in some parts, they don’t see the sun for weeks. Now, this might sound like a horrible situation to be endured. But to the people who live there, winter is something actually to be enjoyed, something they look forward to. They are eager for ski season, a winter only activity, as well as the use of outdoor hot tubs that give them the exquisite contrast of a warm body and very cold noses. No matter the weather, Scandinavians get outside and feel the mood boosting effects of the fresh air. The saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”
They have winter festivals all season long to help cultivate this sense of solidarity, of fun, and of the beauty that winter brings. When the sun never completely rises around the Winter Solstice, a different sort of scenery emerges. This little amount of light causes them to pay attention in detail to what they can see. Meaning very different things stand out in winter than it does in the summer. I think that’s really a beautiful way to look at something like winter, which can seem to drag on. We all know how that feels. But to really take it from something that you are dreading to something that you look forward to. Finding that goodness in the little tiny bits of our events and our experiences really can make a difference in shifting our mindset.
We have to try to shift to be a little more optimistic. A lot of it has to do with the stories that we tell ourselves. How we talk to ourselves. The things we tell ourselves that we should be doing and the things that we shouldn’t be doing. I go into depth with this on my YouTube video this week, so I don’t wanna spend too much time here on the podcast. But I do want you to think about this, the language that we use when we talk to ourselves really does make a difference in how we feel about our days. It effects our levels of optimism. Now, studies show that optimists tend to make more money than pessimists. They get sick less. They have reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and they have a longer life. Optimists have also been found to be happier, more creative, faster at solving problems, and have increased mental alertness when compared to pessimists. Sounds like we maybe wanna be a little more optimistic, right.
David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism, has studied optimistic people for over five years. He’s found that while some people are naturally more optimistic, he believes it’s possible for a pessimistic person to improve their attitude
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and become more optimistic. Happiness expert Shawn Achor agrees with this idea. Cultivating habits to focus on feeling more optimistic really can make a difference.
So, what do I mean when we’re talking about optimism? It’s not necessarily just thinking of the best in every situation, with your head in the clouds pretending like it’s rainbows and lollipops every day. It’s also about accepting the circumstances life has given you and then still thinking about it positively. It’s still grounded and rooted in reality. It’s not, you know, feeling like everything is gonna be okay no matter what. It’s a dose of realism, but really looking at things with a positive lens. I’ve created a download to help you with this, to make this even easier to try to look at a situation and turn it into being something you feel a little bit happier about, or a little bit more optimistic about. You can grab that free download at inkWELLpress.com/podcast. Look under episode 80 and you’ll be able to grab that there.
Now, if you’re on our email list, you’ll already have access to it because it will have come in the email along with today’s information about the episode. I encourage you to give that a try. I do believe there are five practices though, that you can also do to help shift your perspective. I’d love to go through those.
The first practice is expressing gratitude. Gratitude isn’t just about the big things. It’s about being appreciative of even the smallest things in your life. Like, seeing the sun in the morning, or your children, or having your pets run up to you to greet you because they’re happy to see you. It’s the little things, isn’t it? Gratitude can also be found within the stumbling blocks, our failures, and our hardships, because we recognize that these situations give us strength and resilience. Gratitude rewires your brain to think about positive things. When you start thinking about things that you have going for you, instead of obsessing about what things you don’t have, this trains your brain to notice the good in your life much more often. This is the thing. We want to train our brain to scan regularly for the positive. Your brain is constantly scanning the environment. So, let’s get it to start scanning for the good things, right?
Gratitude helps you to see your life as plentiful rather than empty, or abundant rather than scarce. Gratitude just really sets a positive tone for your day. It’s like your own personal soundtrack. We can cultivate this habit early in our days. Maybe it’s something you do first thing in the morning as part of your routine. You write a quick note down while you’re drinking your morning coffee. Build some quiet time into your morning to think about three specific things that you’re thankful for, or even three things that you’re excited about for that day. Think about the people and the things in your life, having a roof over your head, food on the table. There are so many things in our lives we can be grateful for. Sometimes it’s hard. I’m not gonna lie. But when you take the time and you really dig in to find the little bits of happiness in your day, you can really change the way that your brain is scanning and the way that it’s finding information, so you can find a little more happiness.
Practice number two is to give to others. You can donate time or just energy. Now, this could be as grand as volunteering with an organization, or just being able spend some time helping close friends and family. When you begin to recognize what others have and don’t have compared to yourself, it’s easier to cultivate that gratitude. Sometimes when you’re going through your own hardship, it’s really
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empowering to see that you can still help others. That inspires more optimism in yourself. Think of ways that you can pay it forward. Doing something really simple and kind for someone else has been shown to give both the person you’re being kind to, and yourself a boost of happiness. You could send a thank-you note by email. You could buy a stranger a cup of coffee, or even donate a couple of dollars to a good cause. The easiest thing you can do, and something you can do 10 minutes after this podcast is over is give someone a genuine compliment. Nothing makes other people feel better than a genuine compliment. That feeling returns right back to you.
Practice number three is to choose who surrounds you. Try to spend time with people who are a little more optimistic. Sometimes when we’re kind of in the depths of those valleys, it’s easy to get a collection of friends who are also in that same place. Then you spend time together gossiping, complaining, frustrated with your days, and that tends to grow exponentially. The people you spend time with helps shape your worldview. So if you’re spending time with a group of pessimists, it’s really easy to stay a pessimist. But if you shifted this to spend time with more people who offer a more positive worldview, you’re likely to start cultivating a similar mindset for yourself. This includes the naysayers, because there’s always going to naysayers around, right. What others say or do is most often a reflection of their own reality, not necessarily yours. You can disagree with other people’s opinions and stick to your own without allowing their comments to affect you. So really think about who you want to spend your time with. What kind of people you wanna be surrounded by.
Practice number four is to take care of yourself. Mind your words. Think about how you’re talking to yourself. We talked just a little bit earlier about the stories we tell ourselves, and I think that’s really important. The words that we use when we’re speaking to ourselves inside of our brains really can make a difference. When you start to complain, catch yourself. Ask if the complaints are even true. Cutting out complaining and instead thinking of ways out or around the situation, that can help turn your outlook around. I think it’s really important to think about those words we’re choosing. It’s like what we talked about earlier with that word lazy. Choose words very intentionally when you’re describing yourself, or the activities that you’re doing.
We tend to be really, really hard on ourselves. We are our own harshest critics and we speak to ourselves in ways we would never speak to anyone else. So I really want you to be mindful of how you’re talking to yourself. There are lots of ways you can take care of yourself. It’s not just about the activities you do, or giving yourself a spa day. It really is about the day to day actions that you’re taking. That includes the conversations you have inside your brain, because that really can filter that lens of how you’re viewing the world.
The fifth practice I think it’s really important to cultivate is lifting others. Take an interest in other people. Looking outside of yourself really can make a difference. Hearing how others are persevering inspires our own perseverance. When you hear stories of others with similar struggles who came out to other side of it, that can give you hope. That is a solid foundation for optimism. Simply reading or hearing inspirational stories can make a huge difference. Another way to lift others up is by forgiving. While easier said than done, when you make peace with the past, you stop spoiling the present. Optimists have the ability to forgive and then move forward in
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their relationships. It’s not necessarily about forgiving and forgetting, it’s about forgiving and moving forward. So find ways that you can lift up others. I find that when I feel like I’m putting forth good into the world by helping out other people, it really does come back at me. I begin to feel a little bit happier myself.
But ultimately the thing you can do on a daily basis that helps shift your perspective is quite simply to smile. Smile a little more often. A study from The University of Kansas found that smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, reduces the intensity of the body’s stress response. Smiling releases serotonin, a hormone that contributes that feeling of well-being and creates a happier environment. That’s something you can do right now. Just smile. Sometimes it’s hard. I totally understand. There are days I don’t feel like smiling either. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops for me either. But, when you take a minute to take a deep breath, reframe your thoughts and even smile, you really can start to feel a little more positive.
So I want to encourage you to really shift the way that you’re viewing the world. Shifting our perspective, changing our mindset, and start filtering that information to find the positive in it. I know it takes energy. I know it takes focus. It takes some intentionality to start scanning for that positive. But when you do that on a regular basis, it essentially becomes a habit, something that you will do without even thinking. That can really make a difference in how you feel overall throughout your day. The download that goes with this episode really will help with this. So I encourage you to head to Press.com/podcast. Go to episode 80 and grab that free download.
Next week we are going to be continuing talking about cultivating happiness by talking about the joy of missing out. We’ve done episodes before on the fear of missing out, we’re flipping that whole idea on its head and talking about the joy of missing out. As I mentioned, my YouTube video this week is about changing your mindset and achieving happiness. I go in depth talking about those stories that we tell ourselves in our heads. I talk about the five most common stories I hear people telling, and what they sound like, and how to turn that around so we can be a little bit more positive.
I would love to hear your questions. I’m going to be doing an Ask Tanya episode very soon. So, if you do have questions feel free to submit those at Press.com/question and I’ll be happy to choose several of my favorites to put on the show in a few weeks. All right. Until next week, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox from inkWELL Press. To join Tanya’s free group, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/group.