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Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.

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Don't worry, be happy


posted on
June 29th, 2012
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Money can’t buy happiness. Happiness results from how you feel about things, not how things really are. Harvard’s Daniel Gilbert asks you to imagine two people. One wins $58 million in the lottery; the other loses the use of his legs in a car accident. A year later, both are just as happy or sad as before their big events. 

A meta-study of 225 studies on the effect of happiness in the workplace found that happy employees are 31% more productive, sell 37% more, and are three times as creative as their run-of-the-mill peers. Happiness is a bottom line issue. Don’t believe it? Look at the January issue of Harvard Business Review. Aside from hiring happy people, what can you do to take advantage of this?

Our brains are plastic. No, not polystyrene. Flexible. You can rewire your brain. 

A researcher asked harried office workers to do at least one of five brief exercises over the course of three weeks. Four months later, these workers remained more happy, optimistic, and satisfied with their lives. Happiness had become a habit.

I have been following all five of the routines for the past month. My outlook’s more positive. I am certainly happier. I smile more. 

A sample of one doesn’t prove anything, but you may want to give this a shot.

Here is my daily routine:

Jot down 3 things I am grateful for.
Email a positive message to someone.
Meditate for 2 minutes.
Exercise for 10 minutes.
Take 2 minutes to describe my most meaningful experience of the past 24 hours.

Give it a shot. What have you got to lose? 

If it works for you, spread the gospel. Happiness is contagious. 

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2comments

  • Greg Voisen - June 29, 2012 at 11:31 pm -

    Jay this is a great story, thanks for posting it.  How true it is.

  • David Havis - June 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm -

    I was sceptical when I read that you can simply decide to be happier but I've found it's true. There's a lot of snake oil being peddled but for some of these things there are physiological reasons why they work. Smiling is a good one, something to do with the use of those unique muscles releasing some hormone. Explicitly or publicly saying thank you to someone for something specific works well too. What can you lose by doing either of these?

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