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How do you want to feel?

This post is from a series about how we choose to spend our time in my online course, Science of Finding Flow. Read the rest here.

Pause for a moment and think about what you want to feel more of in this one wild and precious life (as Mary Oliver would say). Don’t think about what you want to achieve or accomplish; think about how you want to feel. Shooting for the feeling-state that you want more of (maybe you want more happiness, confidence, or fulfillment) will always take you down a different path than setting your sights on a particular achievement. Emotions are more motivating—and far more fulfilling—than an achievement goal in the long run.

Maybe you you really want to grow your business, but you’re too exhausted and overwhelmed right now and you need to learn how to accomplish more by doing less. An achievement goal would be to grow your business by 25%. But probably what you want to feel is successful, while at the same time feeling well-rested.

One way to figure this out is to identify the activities in your life that already produce the feeling-state you are looking for. These activities don’t need to be habits or things you have done recently; they just need to be things that have produced the emotions you are after in the past. We human beings are terrible at predicting what will make us feel happy (or feel anything positive) in the future. Although we think we know what will make us happier, plenty of research shows that we tend to be wrong about what actually does.

We have better success in the future when we look at what has produced the results we are looking for in the past. For example, a client of mine identified that she wanted to feel more calm, and two activities that make her feel calm are walking her dog in the morning and meditating.

Having a nice long list of the tasks, circumstances, behaviors and activities that already make you feel how you want to feel is going to be handy for the next few activities we’ll introduce as a part of this online course.

So spend some time reflecting on the feeling state that you are after. How do you want to feel when you find your flow? Which activities and pastimes have produced the feelings that you want to feel?


This post is taken from “The Science of Finding Flow,” an online course I created as a companion to my book The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. I’m sharing “lessons” from this online class here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this The Science of Finding Flow tag. Enjoy!

Think About Your Eulogy, Not Your Resume

This post is from a series about how we choose to spend our time in my online course, Science of Finding Flow. Read the rest here.

Since her own bout with burn-out and crippling exhaustion, Arianna Huffington has learned to give great advice for finding greater meaning and fulfillment in life: Start working on your eulogy, and stop working on your resume.

She elaborates:

It is very telling what we don’t hear in eulogies. We almost never hear things like:

The crowning achievement of his life was when he made senior vice president.
Or
He increased market share for his company multiple times during his tenure.
Or
While she didn’t have any real friends, she had six hundred Facebook friends, and she dealt with every email in her inbox every night.

After we’ve passed away, people will recount the ways that we made a difference in their lives and in the world. They will tell stories and recount memories of times we enjoyed together. They will talk, in essence, about the meaning that we found in this lifetime, about our value, our impact, and our purpose. When we start working on our eulogy, we reorient our efforts toward meaning and away from achievements. We look away from the glitter of external rewards: the decadent meal, the Botox, the designer shoes, the higher paycheck, and the more prestigious title. We look inside ourselves to see what really lights our fire, what really brings us peace.

Please note that this probably isn’t about finding a more meaningful job. It’s about identifying the meaning that is already there.

We humans find our calling in all types of work—as janitors and ministers, as executives and hairdressers, as artists and parents and mail carriers and farmers. One study found that among administrative assistants, one-third considered their work a job (they focused on their paycheck—not the meaning or enjoyment they derived from the work), one-third considered it a career (mostly a series of ascending achievements), and another third considered it a true calling (they felt that their work was interesting, socially useful, and truly worthy of their time and energy).

Researchers have found the same results in other occupations. People tend to be more or less equally distributed in each of the categories of job, career, and calling.

It isn’t the job description or title that determines meaning— whether we consider our work a job, a career, or a calling. It’s the person. It isn’t about the prestige or even the helping nature of our work. It’s about the meaning we personally find in it and express through it, and the effort and commitment we give to it. So what do you want people to remember? 

Questions for Introspection

Think about what your friends and family will say at your funeral. What do you want them to say, and what would they likely say now?

Now, take a step back and think about what meaning you find in your work, and in your life.

What are you passionate about? What do you find most interesting, important, and worthy of your time and energy? What positive impact are you having on the world and other people?

Do your time and effort reflect your commitment to the work you value the most?

This is a first step towards discovering what you value, so that you can better prioritize your time. The next activity is about how best to prioritize.

Join the Discussion

Share your thoughts about these questions in the comments below.


This post is taken from “The Science of Finding Flow,” an online course I created as a companion to my book The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. I’m sharing “lessons” from this online class here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this The Science of Finding Flow tag. Enjoy!

How to Foster Grit

This video is the 4th in a series about fostering academic success from The Raising Happiness Homestudy. Watch the rest of the videos here.

“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.”
–Wilt Chamberlain


Video Notes: Combat Perfectionism

(1) Reflect on the following:

Perfectionism is a particular form of unhappiness; moreover, it is a myth that perfectionism leads to success. Do you see perfectionism as a problem for you? Your children? What do you do that might be fostering perfectionism? Do you value your children’s character over their achievements? If so, how do you communicate this to them?

If perfectionism is a problem for you or your children, script your change.

What is the specific situation in which you tend to foster perfectionism?

What will you do differently in that situation?

What will you say?

(2) Practice “satisficing”: Model it, teach it directly, and practice together. Here are three simple steps for practicing saticficing:

1. Outline the criteria for success. You might also want to set time limits with some kids (or for yourself).

2. Choose the first option that meets all of your criteria for success. This means truly stopping when those “finished” signs appear.

3. Focus on the positive aspects of the choice you made or project you completed. What worked out well? What do you like about it? Resist the temptation to think of what “might have been.”

If you would like to download the audio version of this video to listen to in your car or on the go, click the link below.
DOWNLOAD THE AUDIO VERSION HERE.


This post is taken from “The Raising Happiness Homestudy,” an online course I created as a companion to my book Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. I’m sharing one “class” from this online course per week here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this Raising Happiness Homestudy tag. Enjoy!

Finding Meaning at Work

This post is from a series about how we choose to spend our time in my online course, Science of Finding Flow. Read the rest here.

Social psychologists define meaning, as it applies to our lives, as “an intellectual and emotional assessment of the degree to which we feel our lives have purpose, value and impact.” In a stunning series of studies, Adam Grant proved that briefly showing people how their work helps others increases not only how happy people are on the job but also how much they work and accomplish.

Grant’s most famous series of studies were conducted at a call center with paid fundraisers tasked with phoning potential donors to a public university. As anyone who’s ever made cold calls knows, work in a call center isn’t easy. People receiving calls are often annoyed and can be downright rude. Employees must endure frequent rejection on the phone and low morale at the office—all in exchange for relatively low pay. Not surprisingly, call center jobs often have a high staff turnover rate.

In an effort to see if he could motivate call center fundraisers to stay on the job longer, Grant brought in a few scholarship students (who presumably had benefited from the fundraisers’ work) for a five-minute meeting where callers could ask them questions about their classes and experience at the university. In the next month, that quick conversation yielded unbelievable results. Callers who had met the scholarship students spent twice as long on the phone as the fundraisers who had not met any students. They accomplished far more, bringing in an average of 171 percent more money.

In another study, Grant found that having fundraisers read an account from scholarship students about how they had been helped by the fundraisers’ work significantly increased the amount of money they raised. But reading an account from a previous fundraiser about how the callers themselves benefited from their work as a fundraiser did not. The difference? A shift in the callers’ beliefs about the social meaning of their work, and an increased sense of their purpose, value, and impact.

Helping others

These studies are remarkably counterintuitive. We assume that Westerners are best motivated on the job by our own interests— money, prestige, what’s in it for us, what we’ll get, not what we give. But actually, these studies show clearly that we humans are best motivated by our significance to other people. We’ll work harder and longer and better—and feel happier about the work we are doing— when we know that someone else is benefiting from our efforts. It turns out that one sure path to finding your flow–to both ease and strength–is to find the social meaning in your daily activities.

As leadership and management professor Satinder Dhiman writes in Seven Habits of Highly Fulfilled People, “Success is about getting; significance is about giving: we make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” In the end, finding our flow is about finding meaning—our purpose, value, and impact—in what we do.


This post is taken from “The Science of Finding Flow,” an online course I created as a companion to my book The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. I’m sharing “lessons” from this online class here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this The Science of Finding Flow tag. Enjoy!

Chase Meaning, Not Happiness

These days, a lot of people don’t feel totally in control of their choices and their priorities, especially at work. But you do always have the freedom to choose your beliefs about what will make your life worth living.

As Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning upon returning from a brutal concentration camp, where he lost his whole family, including his pregnant wife:

Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress. We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

What did Frankl mean by this? He meant that every day–whether we are in a concentration camp or not–we have important choices to make about whether to submit internally to the powerful forces around us; the forces that will rob us of our essential selves if given the chance. To Frankl, it was what prisoners chose to believe and the way that they pursued meaning that gave them the will and strength to endure.

The same can be said of us, living our privileged lives, although the forces that threaten to rob us of our freedoms are obviously much more benign.

Usually, we think we are choosing to pursue happiness, claiming it as our inalienable right. But mountains of research demonstrate that we humans do better pursuing fulfillment and meaning than we do by pursuing happiness.

Frankl was right on many fronts. It turns out that our happiness, success, and productivity at work are dramatically affected by our beliefs about how our work benefits others.


This post is taken from “The Science of Finding Flow,” an online course I created as a companion to my book The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. I’m sharing “lessons” from this online class here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this The Science of Finding Flow tag. Enjoy!

The Problem with Pursuing Pleasure

This video is from a series about how we choose to spend our time in my online course, Science of Finding Flow. Read the rest here.

“Compelling research indicates that the pursuit of happiness—at least by modern definitions, with our emphasis on pleasure and gratification—won’t ultimately bring us ease and it most certainly won’t bring us strength.”

Join the Discussion

What about you? Do you equate happiness with objects and experiences? When you find your flow, what is it you want to be doing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


This post is taken from “The Science of Finding Flow,” an online course I created as a companion to my book The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. I’m sharing “lessons” from this online class here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this The Science of Finding Flow tag. Enjoy!

Two Powerful Things to Say to Kids

“The only thing you can control is your own effort.”
–Theodora van den Beld

This video is the 1st in a series about fostering academic success from The Raising Happiness Homestudy. Watch the rest of the videos here.


Three Ways to Create a Growth Mindset

(1) Use growth-mindset praise. First, identify where you are most fixed-mindset in praising your children. Is it during athletics? When they bring home grades? For me, it was when my kids brought home art projects. Identify a specific situation: this will be your action trigger.

Second, decide what you will say the next time you praise your kids that is growth-mindset. The key is to focus on the process rather than the end-result.

(2) Ask process questionsWho taught you how to do that? Did you use a different strategy this time? With younger kids, just asking them very simple things (Who did you sit by when you did that? What type of material did you use?) can be enough to provoke a process-oriented conversation.

(3) Identify where your KIDS are most fixed-mindset. Do your kids have fixed-mindset ideas about one area of themselves? Help them identify where the fixed-mindset is hamstringing them, and help them outline a practice strategy. Think of my belief that I couldn’t carry a tune, and how that almost prevented me from auditioning for the high school musical.

 

Related Video: How to Praise Children

Join the Discussion

  • Where are you most fixed-mindset? What sort of change have you scripted?
  • Where have you been successful at fostering a growth-mindset?

Your reflections and suggestions (comment below this posting) will inspire others to make similar changes, so don’t hesitate to “brag” about your successes. By the same token, if you are struggling, tell us about it! Others will certainly have suggestions for you.

audio_icon-100x100

If you would like to download the audio version of this video to listen to in your car or on the go, click the link below. DOWNLOAD THE AUDIO VERSION HERE.

 


This post is taken from “The Raising Happiness Homestudy,” an online course I created as a companion to my book Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. I’m sharing one “class” from this online course per week here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this Raising Happiness Homestudy tag. Enjoy!

Putting Science of Success Into Action

“I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures… I divide the world into the learners and non-learners.”
–Benjamin Barber

This video is the 2nd in a series about fostering academic success from The Raising Happiness Homestudy. Watch the rest of the videos here.

(1) Deconstruct success. When your children—or anyone!—succeeds, find out about the effort that went into their achievement. What led to their success? (Was it an extra practice? A new strategy? A good coach?) This is particularly effective in creating a growth mindset when we see celebrities that seem to be “instant” successes, and we encourage kids to do a little research into what led to their successes. What failures did they overcome, and how?

(2) Practice “innate talents.” Encourage kids to practice things that they assume are personality traits or innate talents, such as being a good friend, a good artist, or being kind or grateful. When we practice anything deliberately and consistently—even if we start off terrible—we tend to improve rapidly. This is a powerful lesson for kids to learn!

(3) Keep practicing using growth-mindset praise with your children (and everyone around you). If you’ve gotten the hang of it in the first area that you scripted last week, think about another situation in which you typically embody a fixed-mindset. (This will be your action trigger.) Then, script the change: what will you say instead that is growth-mindset?

Further Reading: Chapter 1, Raising Happiness, pp. 50-55.

audio_icon-100x100If you would like to download the audio version of this video to listen to in your car or on the go, click the link below.
DOWNLOAD AUDIO HERE.


This post is taken from “The Raising Happiness Homestudy,” an online course I created as a companion to my book Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. I’m sharing one “class” from this online course per week here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this Raising Happiness Homestudy tag. Enjoy!

Flow Class: What is Productivity, Really?

This excerpt is from a series about the ideal worker archetype in my online course, Science of Finding Flow.

To me, productivity is the ability to produce or create something of value and meaning for yourself and others. 

As such, productivity as a “knowledge worker” is not just dependent on the time we have to work–it is also dependent on our energy and motivation, our ability to focus, our creativity and insight, and our raw intellectual power. Productivity is not just about how efficient you are or about how many emails you answer. It’s about how much you accomplish that is meaningful. It is how our work is valued in today’s economy.

This course is going to help you better manage your time, of course. But more importantly, it is also going to teach you how to manage your energy, attention and intelligence.

This link will take you to the rest of class. See you over there!


This post is taken from “The Science of Finding Flow,” an online course I created as a companion to my book The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. I’m sharing “lessons” from this online class here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this The Science of Finding Flow tag. Enjoy!

What is Productivity, Really?

This post is from a series about the ideal worker archetype in my online course, Science of Finding Flow. Read the rest here.

To me, productivity is the ability to produce or create something of value and meaning for yourself and others. 

As such, productivity as a “knowledge worker” is not just dependent on the time we have to work–it is also dependent on our energy and motivation, our ability to focus, our creativity and insight, and our raw intellectual power. According to Chris Bailey, author of The Productivity Project,

Productivity is what makes the difference between someone who runs a company and the employees who work for her. It is also the difference between having no time or energy left at the end of the day and having a ton of time and energy left over to invest however you want.

Productivity is not just about how efficient you are or about how many emails you answer. It’s about how much you accomplish that is meaningful. It is how our work is valued in today’s economy. Bailey explains:

When we transitioned into the time economy, we began to trade our time for a paycheck. But as we have transitioned into the knowledge economy, we’ve begun to trade so much more than just our time. Most people who work nonfactory jobs trade some combination of their time, attention, energy, skills, knowledge, social intelligence, network, and ultimately their productivity, for a paycheck.

Today, time is no longer money. Productivity is money.

What we accomplish—as well as the speed and quality of our work—is no longer just dependent on how much time we have; we have more time than ever to work. At risk of being repetitive here, let me emphasize that time is not the critical factor anymore. Your ability to focus and innovate, as well as the wisdom, insight, and energy you bring to your work are far more important.

This course is going to help you better manage your time, of course. But more importantly, it is also going to teach you how to manage your energy, attention and intelligence.


This post is taken from “The Science of Finding Flow,” an online course I created as a companion to my book The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. I’m sharing “lessons” from this online class here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this The Science of Finding Flow tag. Enjoy!