Key Point: I am going to remind you of something that we intuitively know, but sometimes forget the importance of. Many of us are using the New Year to reflect on what might improve us. You know, make us healthier, happier, live longer, become more attractive, benefit our relationships and overall state of being, etc. This blog has a recommendation that is almost too simple, easy, and frankly, may seem a little corny.
This involves no gyms, no diets, no vitamins, no therapy, no Botox, no drugs, other mood modifying substances, no purchase obligations and zero cost. And the recommended action is scientifically proven over years of research to make our life better. If it sounds too good to be true, in this case it actually isn’t. It just works. You’ll probably be a little surprised.
Please take seven minutes to watch Ron Gutman‘s TED Talk video:
The data on the benefits of smiling are almost laughable. Practically validate this research by thinking about the people you interact with or work around who rarely smile. How attracted are you to them? How often is that sourpuss you?
Thanks for investing in yourself by watching this great TED Talk. Now…Even if you don’t commit to any other New Year’s resolution, or set any other 2014 objectives, please consider doing the following: (Or make better Character Moves).
- Consciously greet people through the day by smiling at them; start with who you live with in the morning when you get up. Do this more often than you do today. It is so rewarding to be around someone who smiles. Why not? What will you lose or give up? It’s free.
- Take a “selfie” photo of you smiling a few times per week and send it someone you care about. Think of the research regarding pre-1950 baseball cards and how much longer those players who broadly smiled lived… Seven years longer than the frowner downers… Wow. This action will create your own “live longer, smiling baseball card” on a regular basis. Think it’s silly? How much is living longer worth?
- Purposefully do something to make you smile more often daily like taking a multi-vitamin. Make a point of smiling more than 20 times per day. Apparently less than 25 percent of adults actually achieve that. Little kids smile on average 400 times per day. What happens to make us grumpy adults? Don’t be that “pickle face” I have written about previously. Consciously smile more and accept the positive returns throughout 2014 and beyond.
More smiling in The Triangle :),
Key Point: My new… New Year’s resolution is to FOCUS on creating and building in 2014 versus just “fixing,” and to better leverage some current research on what we’ve learned about goal achievement to help do this.
The idea of focusing on creating versus just fixing or “making a list,” is more than semantics. The mindset of building/creating is different, in that the intent of our actions is less “what’s wrong with us” and more “building and creating” on top of what we already are.
In his great book on personal leadership, Grounded, Bob Rosen points out that neuroscientists and cognitive researchers have determined much of our action comes from our unconscious; being on autopilot and acting by default. So, creating and building something more of ourselves requires us to deeply think about what would REALLY ADD to our well-being so we can be more conscious and intentional about what we want. This means taking some real quiet personal time to reflect. In that scenario we will be more thoughtful than just “going on a diet” or ” drinking less,” etc. We need to ask AND answer “why?” at least five times. What is the deeper underlying value in ourselves we are creating? Describe how that value will meaningfully improve our well-being. What “good” will it bring us?
Character Moves: Research based steps that work, as published in a recent NYTimes blog post.
- (After determining the WHY and specifying WHAT we REALLY want to achieve). Make and write down a concrete plan. When you do so, you both embed your intentions firmly in memory (which reduces forgetting) and make it harder to postpone good behavior, since doing so requires breaking an explicit commitment to yourself. In an experiment reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers contacted thousands of individuals who needed flu shots. Those individuals who were prompted to privately write down a plan specifying the date and time they would visit a clinic got shots at a 13 percent higher rate than members of a control group, who were also reminded about clinics but were not prompted to form a plan.
- Put something you value on the line. In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a team of researchers reported that over the course of a 16-week study, individuals who were given the opportunity to set aside money for forfeiture if they failed to lose weight lost 14 pounds more than those in a control group. Similarly, an experiment in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics found that smokers hoping to quit were more likely to succeed if offered an opportunity to deposit funds in an account for six months that they would lose if they failed a urine test for nicotine and cotinine. You can arrange to forfeit money if you don’t achieve your goals at stickK.com, a website founded by behavioral economists. But putting money on the line isn’t your only option: Making an appointment to exercise with a friend may be effective, too, because you are much less likely to cancel on a friend than on yourself.
- Bundle your temptations. This is one of our favorite strategies for tackling health goals, which we tested in an experiment described in a forthcoming paper in Management Science. The idea is best illustrated with a scenario: Imagine you want to exercise more but struggle to drag yourself to the gym. Imagine you also have a fondness for trashy novels but feel guilty wasting your time reading them. The solution is simple: Allow yourself to read those novels only while exercising at the gym. Our research demonstrates that when you leave your copy of “The Hunger Games” (or such) at the gym, you exercise 56 percent more often (and 61 percent of people will even pay the gym to hold their book so it is only available when exercising).
- Hang with people that will support, guide and energize you. A study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients with poorly controlled diabetes were paired with patients who previously had poorly controlled diabetes but had since achieved mastery over their disease. The improvements in glycemic control achieved by those mentored in this study were larger than those produced by many leading drugs.
- Do one through four as you FOCUS on one really meaningful goal that will compel you to act with the specific intent to create a more complete and self valued you. You will also, as I have noted in previous writing, be building a positive habit system.
OR consciously don’t bother and torture yourself with the idea of achieving a new year’s resolution, hoping that things will somehow be better. Buy a lottery ticket instead… The odds are the about the same :).
New… New Year in The Triangle,
P.S. consider StickK.com… It might be a helpful tool.
[Ed. Note: This wraps up the highlight blogs of 2013 (see the last two posts for five favored blogs in the other two Character Triangle categories: ACCOUNTABILITY and RESPECT). Thank you readers. My very capable editor Garrett Rubis, and I look forward to you joining us for another 100 or so posts through 2014; some of which will hopefully inspire valued thought and action. Please forward any blog you like and/or encourage people you care about to subscribe. The subscription is FREE and the blogs are an outcome of my daily work as ATB Financial‘s Chief People Officer, intertwined with leading research, lessons from thought leaders and/or 40 plus years of knee scrapes and high fives in the world of work].
Key Point: Thank you for the wonderful response to the many blogs related to ABUNDANCE in 2013. Here are five that touched many people.
1. “Who Will Sit in That Chair?” This blog was one of several inspired by Adam Grant‘s research and book entitled, “Give and Take.” The benefits of giving and generosity are validated by his research and a call for more of this from all of us.
2. The blog, “What is Your Positive Intelligence Quotient?” introduces the positive intelligence quotient (PQ) and is foundational to understanding how a positive and growth mindset contributes to our personal leadership and success. Shirzad Chamine adds some very practical work to underscore positive psychology. What’s your PQ?
3. A reminder to consciously add laughter and humor in our daily work was the essence of the “Laugh Your %#$ Off! For Real.” It generated a lot of thumbs up from readers and reinforced our need to laugh out loud and often each day.
4 “Tug on Superman’s Cape” reminded us to question the reason some people become “go to people.” This blog caused people to sit back and go, “hmm…” Counter-intuitively, superman jobs are often most vulnerable for elimination. When we look deeper they can be based on scarcity rather than abundance.
5. Perhaps the blog with the most referenced phrase in 2013 was the “pickle face” post? The credit for the phrase belongs to non other than Pope Francis. Regardless of religious affiliation or not, this message really seemed to resonate with people. Don’t be a pickle face in 2014.
- Read one or more of the above “favorites,” or go to lornerubis.com and tour the 2013 “Be Abundant” section. You may find others that are more meaningful to you.
- If you haven’t had the opportunity, please read my gift to you blog published Dec. 24. It nicely wraps up the blogs over the year.
- Join us, read and pass on our blogs through 2014… Hopefully we can become more self aware, and act with clearer, more targeted intent as we continue to grow our personal leadership skills.
ABUNDANCE Favorites in The Triangle,
Happy New Year,
Lorne and Garrett Rubis