The Power of Visualization

Visualization is the act of leveraging the powers of your brain to achieve your goals.

The art and practice of visualization have been around for years; however, with the increased focus on mindfulness and the power of positive thinking, visualization is gaining more attention.  The beauty of visualization is that it is something that can be learned and doesn’t take a huge amount of time daily.  What it does take is the commitment to an ongoing routine.

Before outlining a simple process for visualization, I’d like to provide a level of supporting information.

How people define the power of visualization varies.  At the most basic level, visualization is seeing your goals as if they have already been achieved.  It’s understanding the power of how your thoughts work for you.  By visualizing something, you are imprinting this vision in your subconscious mind.  If it is different than the current reality, what your conscious mind is experiencing, there will be a conflict between the two.  This is where the power of your mind works.  The subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and your vision, it simply wants to minimize any conflict.  Think of your subconscious mind as an inner collaborator that works with your conscious mind to align what you need to achieve your goals.  You begin to see what it will take to achieve the goal more clearly and be attracted to those things and understand how they will help you achieve success – what you have visualized.

When you hear about visualization, you will also hear about the Law of Attraction – where positive or negative thoughts bring about linked outcomes.  At the highest level, the belief is that people and their thoughts are made up of “pure energy” and the energy of your thoughts is truly connected with all the energy in the universe.  Your thoughts will attract “like” energy.  This is the underlying premise of the power of positive thinking.

Additionally, there is the Reticular Activating System (RAS), which is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information that we are bombarded with daily so that the important information gets through.  Your RAS takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it.  By focusing on positive or your goals, your RAS will filter out what doesn’t fit.  Here’s an easy example of how the RAS works.  Think about being in a crowded restaurant or bar where everyone is talking.  You don’t hear their conversations, but if someone happens to say your name, you are likely able to hear it.  Another example would be when you consider buying a car.  Suddenly you begin noticing that same car everywhere you drive.  While those cars were already there, your RAS letting through the information that is important to you.

Let me address the naysayers: I understand that the practice of visualization will not automatically make things happen.  What is does is set in motion the process needed to achieve your success.  You need to follow your subconscious mind as it frames and guides your actions toward achievement and eliminate the conflict between your vision and current reality.  You can’t sit on the couch and lose 20 pounds just because you visualized it while eating a donut.

As mentioned above, visualization doesn’t take a lot of time, it simply takes a commitment to follow through with a few simple activities with consistency.

Steps to visualization:

  • Determine your goal – what you want to achieve.
  • Get comfortable.
  • Visualize the situation in as much detail as possible.
    • Use all your senses when going through this process –
      • What do you see, feel, smell, hear, and taste?
      • What are you wearing?
      • Who’s there with you?
      • What are your surroundings – where are you?
    • Add emotions and bodily sensations.
    • Be as vivid as you can.
  • Visualize in the first person, as if you have already achieved your goal. Don’t think about it as some future state, experience it as if you were there in the moment.
  • Repeat this practice 2 to 3 times a day. Frequency is important to training your subconscious mind to this new reality.
  • An additional step I recommend is to also visualize the steps along the way to achieving your ultimate goal. Visualize your success in increments and in doing what it will take.  Experience the journey.

That’s it. It’s that simple.

Now that you understand the basics of visualization, go out and leverage it for your benefit.  Start with something small and experience how powerful your mind is.


Trust is in your hands…

Let me start by saying, what I am writing is contrary to the teachings people have heard in their personal and professional life.  It is something that impacts us 24/7 and is an underpinning of every facet of our lives.  It may sound like I am exaggerating, but it truly is.  What I am talking about is TRUST.   I have a different perspective.

You have heard the statement – “trust is earned”. There have been numerous books that talk about earning trust and how important trust is – How to gain trust in others and what it takes to earn your trust.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that trust is crucial to any relationship – personal or professional.  However, I think it is sad that we are being taught to take a negative perspective as a starting point.  I have grown up with more of a positive attitude which leads me to the perspective that people are generally good and wake up in the morning, just as I do, wanting to be the best person they can be.  I truly believe that it is a small percentage of the population that is out to undermine others or do “bad” things.

From a business perspective, if we all agree that having trust in an organization is our goal and distrust in an organization negatively impacts the overall performance, why would we start with the negative side of the equation?  Distrust automatically drives a level of suspicion which in turn makes a relationship less effective.  If we start a relationship with the perspective that “trust is earned” and not habitually given, we are automatically accepting a level of ineffectiveness until actions are taken to “earn” the trust.  While many actions can be taken to speed up the level of trust in a relationship, as Stephen M. R. Covey outlined in his book “The Speed of Trust”, I am convinced that initiating a relationship with trust will minimize the time it takes to build trust even at warp speed.  If you are willing to accept anything other than assuming trust from the outset, you are willing to accept a cost to the business for at least a period of time.  While distrust may feel like a level of protection, it is more than likely destructive.

“The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”

Mahatma Gandhi

The negative impacts to a business can be huge from paranoia to micromanagement and the establishment of bureaucratic processes.  Additionally, when employees don’t believe there is a level of trust in their ability or intention, they will tend to be more apprehensive in taking action.

While I don’t believe that people will outwardly project this immediate distrust, it is an underlying trait that we are teaching people with the current – “trust is earned” – mantra.

There will be times when trust is broken and repair is needed.  However, it is at this time that books providing actions to be taken to build trust can be utilized to save the relationship.  My perspective is expecting trust as a base, we will be more productive overall and actually happier at the same time.

When I have shared my perspective with others, they generally ponder, but tend to agree with the premise and then begin to put it to use – for instance, why would you hire someone if you didn’t trust them?  Maybe this means it is situational and there are levels of trust that can be given immediately while other situations require more verification (trust, but verify model).  This may be true, but I‘d still rather start with the positive view on trusting others.

All I ask is that you try it and see how it changes your perspectives and effectiveness.

A Teenager’s Perspective on Stress and Anxiety

By Gabriele White

Many teenagers get stressed out before tests or presentations in front of their peers.  It’s true that nearly every high school student goes through this. It is not true that this response has to take control and overwhelm you. Stress in these situations is self-induced and can be controlled by your own positive thoughts and actions. Believe in yourself and stay positive.

You can reduce your stress in many ways.  You can accept that you can’t change the way things happen or what people think of you.  You can prepare more for the test and you can choose not to panic or let the stress take over your thoughts.  Many teenagers become so focused on the story, “oh, I lm stressed” that they create increasingly more stress. In reality, if you tell yourself, I can do this and take it one step at a time you will be able to manage the stress and end up more successful and happier.

Teenagers tend to struggle with the concept of taking responsibility for their actions. They never think it’s their fault for putting everything off until the last moment.  They believe that the teacher shouldn’t have assigned such a dumb project.

Take responsibility for your actions.  More and more often you see teenagers blame their failures on others.  Not even other people but other objects too.  A lot of the times kids start believing that it really was “Sandra’s fault for not giving me the pencil so I couldn’t take the test” or “it’s my math teacher’s fault for not teaching.”  But let’s get real; you should have brought a pencil to class.  I mean it’s annoying Sandra didn’t give you a pencil, but it’s your fault for not coming prepared, and your math teacher is a teacher for a reason. She went through 4 years of training for this and I’m sure she’s doing better than most people would.  When you fail a math test, it’s your fault. When you screw up and get caught cheating, stealing, or doing something you shouldn’t be doing, it’s your fault. This may seem obvious to some people, but not to others. You have to admit it’s your fault and realize that consequences come with every decision.  You may not like them or want them, but they will help you learn and grow from these experiences.  Once you’ve done this and accepted the blame and failure, you’re no longer a victim. You can take control of your life and your feelings.

People feel pressure to always be in touch and posting online.  I mean, if it’s not on Snapchat did it really happen? Social media influences us to fit into society by being perfect and cool and funny and smart.  This can be stressful, overwhelming and lead to bad decisions, but we still check Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter during every free moment.

Whenever we go online we automatically start comparing ourselves to the beautiful filter covered photos. For me I know get jealous seeing all my friends on Snapchat hanging out while I’m practicing sports or just at home with my family. Some people would say this give you “anxiety and stress”. If that’s the case then maybe it’s time to put the phone down.

Snapchat is a great example of how technology controls us.  It makes me feel like I must Snapchat every day so I don’t lose my streaks.  Once I ran out of data and it was really stressful because I didn’t want to lose my streaks.  Rather than a choice, it became a burden. Once I stopped, I found that losing my streaks made me feel better, almost freed.

Also, don’t define your best friends by the list of 7 people you snapchat the most. Snapchat who you want to Snapchat; and don’t worry if they aren’t who you hang out with. Don’t let this computer generated list define your life.

I recently noticed that I have touched my phone every day for nearly 2 years.  Yet I am not sure I have hugged my parents or brothers or anyone every day of those two years.  Also, my phone has seen my face for a longer period of time than any one person. Our phones have become the center of our lives .

We use them to connect with people who are hundreds of miles away from us. As cool as that is, there’s actually people who are less than 20 feet away from us who are perfectly capable of having a conversation in person. I believe many teenagers do not realize that our body’s already have this connection feature and it doesn’t cost extra or take time to install.

I am not saying that having a phone or social media is bad.  I ‘m just saying if you allow it to control your life, you miss out on more personal connections.  You become a victim of technology rather than allowing technology to enhance connection. We are allowing our phones to consume us. While reading this, you’ve probably gotten 3 new notifications, and you may have even stopped to read them or at least check to see if they were important.

Appreciate where you are in life and who you have around because eventually they won’t be there anymore. My family consists of five people; me, my two older brothers and my parents. One of the hardest things lately is that my two older brothers are moving out of the house. I never thought the day would come.  They will always still be children, even if legally they are considered adults. I’ve been scrambling to absorb every detail of these last years.  I don’t want to forget what it was like rushing, pushing, and shoving as we race up the stairs to bed. I realized that not one of these memories came from my phone through Snapchat.

Stop wishing you were somewhere else with someone else. If you aren’t where you want to be, then change it. If social media brings you down then put it down. Make real life memories. Stop letting the virtual reality become your only reality.

Throughout your life you will face hardships, but you have to persevere. Don’t give up because life is difficult. You can’t expect a great life to be handed to you; you’ve got to work for it.  This has been said many times, but it hasn’t sunk in for many of us. So I am saying it again.  You are in control of your life. You decide what to do with the difficult times. Don’t give in to stress and anxiety.  Take responsibility, make good choices and fight through it.

What is Pleasure?

So if happiness is an inner state of well-being that can be created, what is pleasure?  To oversimplify, pleasure is an activity that makes you “feel good now.” Pleasure is different from happiness in that, instead of being created within and by you, it comes from outside stimuli. You get pleasure from an event, activity, or occurrence that generates positive feelings. Eating a good meal, buying something nice, playing Xbox, or watching a movie can create pleasurable sensations. Because pleasure comes from outside stimuli, it is short-lived and limited to the timeframe during and immediately after the activity occurs. Pleasure is also different from happiness in that we quickly adapt to the level of pleasure an activity provides, and we need more and more of that activity to provide more pleasure.

Pleasure is subject to a phenomenon known as Hedonic Adaptation, or the Hedonic Treadmill. In other words, a person gets accustomed to the activity creating the pleasure; and in order to experience continued pleasure, the level of the activity has to be elevated. Video games are a great example of this phenomenon: there are always more levels to advance to, so the game is constantly changing and becoming more difficult. How fun would a game be if there were only one level, with one degree of difficulty? Personally, my kids gain a lot of pleasure from playing video games, but I’ve noticed they can’t play the same game at the same level for an extended period of time. The challenges of the game have to be constantly increased. They want more and more challenging levels; or they want to break their previous records; or, even better, they want to switch to more realistic game experiences.

Many of us believe that once we get that {fill in the blank: car, house, boyfriend, money}, that is all we’ll need or want. We will not want anything else. Has that ever really happened for you? How long after you bought your new car were you ready to buy another one? How about that girl in high school— the one who, if she would just go out with you, all your dreams would come true? Did that work out? What about the beliefs that “if I can just graduate college, or if I can just get that first job, or if I can just get a promotion, or a raise, then I will be happy”? After those things happened, you were probably happy, even giddy for a while. But soon you returned to your normal level of happiness. This principle can also apply to more dangerous situations, such as drug addiction. The first time a person tries a particular drug, he only needs a little to get an intense reaction. But his body adapts quickly; and the next time he needs a little more, and the next time even more. His body continually adapts and needs more of the drug (or a more potent drug) to get the same feeling.

Over the centuries, our ancestors survived and prospered because of their amazing ability to adapt to changing circumstances. This is great when conditions are negative, such as in harsh climates or with limited food sources. They adapted so they would survive and not be miserable. They adjusted to the new normal and began looking for ways to flourish. The trait works similarly when conditions are good. Rather than being happy and comfortable with warm weather and plenty of food, they adapted to those comforts and looked to add more. Their brains were wired not to settle completely so they wouldn’t become overly comfortable and stop trying to make things better. This trait we inherited pushes us to always get better, and to continue to evolve and move.

Unfortunately, it can also work against us now that we have all the comforts human beings could need. We are still trying to evolve, so we keep adapting, even to the great things in our life. When we encounter pleasure, chemicals in our brain are released that make us feel very good and make us want more. We instinctually look for ways to repeat and increase that level of pleasure. We are programmed to want more rather than to be grateful and satisfied with what we have. We find something pleasurable, and we adapt to it and want more. This is the basis of Hedonic Adaptation and the reason many of us run on the Hedonic Treadmill.

One of the most famous and surprising studies about Hedonic Adaptation was done in 1978. It showed that whether a person had won the lottery or became a paraplegic, as quickly as two months later, that person had returned to the level of happiness experienced prior to the event. It also showed that often, over the long term, the paraplegics actually became happier. The lottery winners quickly adapted to their new mansions instead of apartments, and champagne instead of beer. They had no way to move up after a series of initial improvements. The champagne was top of the line and the beer didn’t taste as good anymore. Going back to a job paying $30,000 per year held no interest for someone who had won millions of dollars in the lottery.

The paraplegics, on the other hand, reached rock bottom. Every movement was new and appreciated. They had nowhere to go but up. Every day brought a new challenge, and overcoming each challenge brought joy and confidence that built on itself. The happiness came from overcoming lots of challenges and running into and overcoming roadblocks that they could face because of their experience in winning tiny battles in the past.

Winning tiny battles and overcoming obstacles builds self-confidence that can’t be easily undone. If you appreciate and celebrate what you have accomplished, the next bigger challenge seems more doable. This creates a virtuous circle of success that builds on itself. Your ability to experience happiness over time becomes stronger. That is why older people and people who have experienced significant trauma in their lives tend to be happier. They have been through the trials and tribulations that strengthened their confidence, provided perspective, and gave them a reservoir of memories and successes to call on whenever life presents negative challenges.

One other reason lottery winners are not as happy as people might expect is related to activity in the brain created by earning a reward instead just being given the reward. Researchers at Emory University measured brain activity when subjects had to complete tasks to earn money vs. when they were just given envelopes of money with no effort required. The subjects who worked for their money showed significantly more activity in the pleasure centers of the brain, and these effects lasted much longer than those in the subjects who received money without expending any effort. It seems the Science of Happiness supports what grandfathers everywhere have believed and taught for years about money: “I get my money the old-fashioned way. I earn it.”

Hedonic Adaptation also explains why the standard of living in the US has gone up 250% in the past 50 years, while the average level of happiness has not kept pace. We are adapting to the nicer houses, cars, and general consumerism faster than we can earn more money to buy bigger and even better stuff.

Pleasure, by definition, is something that is positive. If it is negative, we call it pain. Happiness, on the other hand, includes both positive and negative events. Happiness does not mean everything is always good and we are always wearing rose-colored glasses. Happiness is experiencing negative events and emotions and knowing that we can get through them and come out okay. It is also knowing how to get through those tough times, knowing how to use our minds and our memories to make the best of our current situations. People who have developed the skills for happiness are aware of something my mom has always said: “This too shall pass.”

Another important point is that we can experience pleasure even when we are not happy. Again, drug use and alcoholism are clear examples. Addicts experience short-term pleasure when they indulge, even though they are often depressed, or at least unhappy. As soon as they sober up, a potential inability to deal with the present situation can cause them to jump back into chasing the quick pleasure again and again.

As an analogy, buying art is a pleasure. Putting it in your house and looking at it is pleasurable. Becoming an artist is more like happiness. You have to work at it. You can’t buy it. It is not something you can get from outside of yourself. It can only happen if you spend the time and cultivate the skills necessary to become an artist. The small but important difference in becoming an artist and becoming happy is that talent may be a requisite to be a successful artist, while truly anyone can be successful at finding happiness if he or she is willing to put in the time and acquire the skills.


Let’s do a quick review of the differences between pleasure and happiness:


Happiness Pleasure
Internal External
Ongoing Present during the pleasurable activity
Builds on itself Subject to Hedonic Adaptation
Lasting state Temporary state
Way of thinking Often an impact to the senses
No Limits Too much can become addictive and disconnect you from happiness
Includes negative events Defined as positive
Includes dealing with the pain Attempt to avoid pain
Includes Pleasure Can occur without happiness
Within our control Dependent on external factors


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #73 – Know that You are Enough


You are enough.  It is ok to want to be more, but you will be happier and more successful if you can first understand that you are good enough just the way you are.   You are worthy of being treated fairly and with respect. You are worthy of feeling important and feeling like you can make a difference in the world. You have flaws and have made mistakes, but that is ok, because so has everyone else. Other people have more; more money, more recognition, more opportunities, more friends, and more of lots of things. But still other people also have less of those things. We are not keeping score. Your worthiness is not based on who has more or less. You are worthy because you are you; and you are different, not better or worse than anyone else. If you want to change you can.  But don’t change because you are not enough; change because you want to be more. Don’t torture yourself with the lie that you don’t measure up. Believe that you are good enough and you, like everyone else, can always get better.

Embrace happiness now.  Happiness should not be feared because it might be fleeting.  It should be embraced because it is here. You are worthy of feeling happiness.  You deserve to be happy.  Don’t let your fear of what you might lose, keep you from being happy about what you have.

Embrace being imperfect. The quest for perfection drives us to never feel good enough. Embrace your worthiness and grow because you want it for yourself, not because you want to measure up to someone else. It is ok to say “no.” You don’t have to do everything. Practice appreciating what you have and who you are. Reach out to your network for support. There are others in your life who believe in you, if you are willing to let them in.


You are enough and you will be happier, when you make that a guiding principle of your life.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Are You Chasing Pleasure Instead of Happiness?

The Pleasures that you seek are not happiness at it’s Peak, for it is contentment that gives true fulfillment.  – The Coach

The first concept in connecting happiness and success is understanding the difference between pleasure and happiness. Are you chasing immediate pleasures like sex, decadent foods, couch time, and video time; or are you nurturing relationships, maintaining your health through diet and exercise, finding ways to improve yourself, and being thankful for what is working in your life? The pursuit of pleasure involves feeling good in the short term, and if overdone it can create a risk of negative long-term outcomes; in contrast, the pursuit of happiness consists of intentional activities and habits that promote long-term health and well-being.

Many people mistakenly chase pleasure, believing they are chasing happiness. They often end up unhappy and confused. They become victims of the Hedonic Treadmill: they experience pleasure and then the feeling fades; so they do more to experience more pleasure, but the feeling fades again. No matter what level they take their pleasure to, it only gives them short-term joy; and they eventually end up back at the same level of happiness where they started. By distinguishing between pleasure and happiness, we can help people find something that lasts, a happiness they can call on in good times and bad. We can help them get off the Hedonic Treadmill and create habits that can productively lead to the happiness they are searching for.

Something to note: pleasure is not inherently bad. Pleasure is actually one part of happiness. The goal is not to avoid pleasure. As a matter of fact we should seek pleasure. The challenge is moderation. How much pleasure is too much and when is pleasure connecting us to happiness vs. disconnecting us from happiness? To answer these questions, we need to know the difference between pleasure and happiness.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #70 – Today is Your Day



Happiness is right now.  There may be better or worse things in your past, but those things don’t matter now.  You may have big plans, hopes, and dreams for your future, but there is no reason you have to wait for those to be happy. Your happiness is dependent on what you do with what you have today. You can choose to appreciate and build on what you have or you can choose to lament what you don’t have. You can mourn the unfair things that have occurred in your past or you can focus on what you can make happen today.  Make today your day.  Be happy today.


“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”  Dr. Suess


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Lesson #45 – Offer Your Gift of Leadership to Those Who Might Get Left Behind

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.



Today has been quite a day! I woke up this morning with a horrible headache so I went back to sleep for a bit. I then got up and got some more of my project done before heading off to class. I then had SD office hours where I went over my SD Scorecard with Rachel and had a very productive conversation! I also spoke with Tina some more. She should have reached out to you tonight. She was hoping to sit in with our meeting tomorrow after PLP but I told her to email you and get your okay as well. That way, like you said, it really is her making the first step. After office hours, I went with a friend and got a massage, which was very helpful in alleviating my headache! I then came home, worked the front desk, did a little work out, showered, and am now off to bed feeling great about an all around productive day!

Can’t wait to meet with you tomorrow!



Lesson: Offer your gift of leadership to those who might get left behind.

Alexia made sure everyone was taken care of. One of the girls in her group, Tina (I changed the name to protect her privacy), was struggling with time management, participation, and concern about what happens after college. She was overwhelmed by school and all her activities. Alexia took special time to work with her on her goals, and assembled a team of mentors and friends to consult with her, and then Alexia coached her on a daily and weekly basis. She kept the team informed of Tina’s progress and made herself available until Tina was able to successfully graduate.

As a leader you won’t have time to take care of everyone and various followers will drop out of the team for their own personal reasons; but it is worthwhile to evaluate whether someone can be helped, and with a few nudges from you, get back on track. Reach out for help from others and don’t try to do it all alone. Offer to help the person in need, but don’t try to force them to do anything or even expect they will respond. Your leadership is a gift. They may or may not decide to accept your gift. They may not want to take advantage of the opportunities you provide them. But offer your gift of leadership any-way. Helping one person get back on track will make it all worthwhile.


Opportunity: Think about who needs a little nudge and a little help from you to be successful.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

How Happy and Successful Do You Feel?

Most people feel relatively happy and successful, and at the same time are looking to become even happier and more successful. It is natural to feel like there is more and to want to move to that next level. It is an instinct that helped our ancestors survive and prosper. The challenge is that many of us don’t know what steps to take to become happier and more successful, or we don’t know the correct steps. See if you identify with any of the examples below.

Have you ever woken up to the alarm and hit the snooze button too many times because you just didn’t want to get out of bed and go to work? Have you ever had that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach where you can’t imagine going back into that office and facing that sadistic supervisor who seems to want to make your life miserable? What about that crazy manager in the other department who makes your life difficult just because she can?

Have you ever left the office at 8 or 9 pm with four more hours of work to do and three impossible deadlines for the next day? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed you wanted to cry or hide somewhere? These feelings can be especially confusing, given that six months ago you were on top of the world and everything was going great. Sometimes we feel as if we are on top of the mountain; at other times, down in a deep valley. What’s going on?

Have you ever worked and worked and worked to get a promotion or raise you deserve, been really excited for about 30 days, and then wondered when the next raise or promotion would come? Have you ever gotten your life perfectly in line with your dreams, had everything on track, and then sat back and asked the question, “Why don’t I feel happy? I should feel happy; what’s wrong with me?”

Have you ever felt like what you did just didn’t seem to matter and wasn’t as important as what everyone else was doing? Have you felt like no matter how hard you tried you just couldn’t make a difference? Does it ever seem like you are constantly banging your head against a wall and nothing ever changes?

These feelings are all natural and are indications that, armed with a little more information, you can take steps to become happier and more successful. As part of our culture, we learn to chase success as an end result rather than a daily habit. We are taught that the reward for success is happiness, and some day we will get to be happy if we just fight through and spend enough time being unhappy.

Happiness and success are connected. They are intertwined in our actions, but they are not a pinnacle we reach. They are daily habits and practices. They are small things we choose to do every day that eventually lead to milestones of success along a journey that lasts our entire lives. The antidote to the feelings described above is to choose positive actions every day that will help us feel contented and fulfilled, that will help us feel like we matter and can make a difference, and that will help us feel hopeful and excited to get up every morning.

Research also clearly indicates that happier people are healthier, have better relationships, and are more successful. Stress kills. So the antidote to stress, which is the cause for many health challenges, is happiness.

The good news is that there are steps you can take, and choices you can make, to be happier.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #68 Pattern Recognition is the Key to Happiness

happiness_pos_neg #68

Your brain is a pattern recognition machine. It takes thousands of tiny patterns and assembles them to form bigger patterns which you recognize as thoughts and memories.  Your memories are connected to still other patterns that evoke your feelings. Our brain evolved with a bias towards negative patterns so we could quickly recognize danger and when we should be extra cautious. As a result, we tend to accumulate more patterns associated with negative feelings rather than patterns associated with positive feelings.  This negative bias can impact our happiness.

The good news is you can change which feelings are associated with which patterns. For example your thought patterns about work may evoke negative feelings due to a myriad of negative experiences that have occurred throughout your career. But there are also positive experiences at work. With a little effort you can change the pattern connections in your brain about work from the negative experiences and feelings to the positive experiences and feelings.

The next time you find yourself dreading going to work or getting that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, stop and recall the things at work that make you happy. Getting to see your friends, completing an important project, and making a valuable contribution as a team member are all positive feelings that you can connect to your thought patterns to replace the negative feelings. Focus on how the positive experiences made you feel, particularly in a work setting.

Another option is to go to lunch with your friends or sit down with your spouse and talk about all the things you like about work and how positive they make you feel.  It may take 5 or 6 of these sessions before the connections start to switch from negative to positive, but over time you will notice a difference as your thought patterns about work become reconnected to your positive feelings.

The same processes can work for relationships, getting stuck in traffic, and many other patterns that evoke negative feelings.

Once you learn how to reconnect the patterns in your brain to positive feelings, you will be happier and more successful.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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