GaryVee takes on HAPPINESS

Keys to happiness

From the ways to achieve happiness is knowledge, as it brings happiness to the heart and expands it until it is vaster than the world itself. Ignorance, on the other hand, brings anxiety, constriction and confinement. The greater the servant’s knowledge, the happier and more vast his heart will be with joy.

Book: The Keys to Happiness
Author: Imām Ibn Al-Qayyim
Explanation by: Shaykh al-‘Allāmah Muhammad Amān al-Jamī
Published by: Hikmah Publications
Translated by: Hassan Somali
Page: 26

The science of happiness and effective teams

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

1935, U.S. biologist Hugh Smith found himself lost deep in the Southeast Asian jungle, floating down a river in pitch darkness. As he progressed farther in his canoe, he saw what appeared to be lightning strike one of the mangrove trees on the banks of the river. And then, to his astonishment, it struck the same tree again, and many more trees around it, one by one.

What Smith saw that day turned out to not be lightning strikes, but rather a biological phenomena called synchrony, wherein the lightning bugs that were sitting on those mangrove trees all lit up in perfect unison. And this discovery turned existing research on these insects upside down.

Back then, it was commonly understood among scientists that lightning bugs used their light to attract a mate and that they did it alone to beat out the competition. Bugs who lit up individually were recorded as having reproductive success at a rate of 3%. Survival of the fittest.

However, when more research was done by Smith and others on synchrony, it was found that the species increased their individual reproductive success by up to 80% when they lit up together.

It turns out that, at least for lightning bugs, success is a team sport. And that’s also true for us humans, according to Shawn Achor, happiness researcher and the author of the book Big Potential.

Breaking with a Darwinist mindset

Shawn believes that “survival of the fittest” is a broken and backwards system when applied to human success and happiness. He has found that when people work together better, every metric of potential rises for everyone involved.

Much of the need for Shawn’s research comes from the age-old notion that happiness comes from individual success. But this is just not true. In a study Shawn conducted with Harvard students, the only factor that contributed to their overall sense of happiness was their connection to other people. Regardless of how smart and successful they were, he found that the more isolated they became in the pursuit of success, the more unhappy they felt, too.

This human connection plays out with real results in business as well. Salespeople with a high degree of optimism sell up to 90% more than their counterparts. And, in a study Shawn conducted at a US hospital, he found that if the nursing and physician staff simply greeted patients on a regular basis, patient reviews of that hospital skyrocketed, and so did caregiver feelings of contentedness at work.

Emotions are contagious

Happiness in your place of work is important because your emotions are contagious. You know how whenever someone smiles at you, you naturally smile back? That is because our brains are wired to mirror that behavior when we see it in others.

On the other side, negativity is also highly contagious. According to a study done at a US airport, if someone stands near a group of others waiting to board a flight and starts nervously tapping a foot, or stress-fully checking their watch, others in that same group will start to fuss and fidget as well, often without even realizing it.

This isn’t to say that we must avoid negative emotions at all costs — they will always be a part of the human experience. But what this research does show us is that human beings are affected by the emotional environment they live in. That is why teams that develop healthy and connected ways of working together are so much more productive.

The good news is that humans can also disrupt negative neural pathways in order to make way for good ones. Sure, an individual may have more negative tendencies, but Shawn’s research has found that when people are able to interrupt feelings of negativity with other inputs, they actually become happier and feel more successful. Shawn shared with us two easy ways to get started boosting happiness.

Research-backed happiness boosters

  1. Think of three different things to be grateful for each day. According to Shawn’s research, if people are able to express three different things they are grateful for every day for 21 days, they can completely change their outlook on life. In many cases, people moved from scoring as a pessimist to an optimist when tested before and after the exercise.
  2. Every day, write a note of praise or admiration for someone in your life. Similarly, his research has shown that, over the course of 21 days, if someone can take two minutes to write out a text or an email to someone in their life each day, they increase feelings of social connection, which is a predictor of increased health and increased lifespan. And who wouldn’t want that?

From: Ladders

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(WEF) The Blue Zones of Happiness

From : WEF

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

My Notes on the Talk

Three nations, Singapore, Costa Rica and Denmark, offers us a life-changing lessons on happiness.

Each countries are uniquely happy but they quoted different theme or reason for happiness:

  • Singapore rates strongly in “life satisfaction,” or how people assess their life.
  • Costa Rica excels in “positive affect,” the enjoyment of everyday life.
  • Denmark gets high scores for “purpose,” or meaningful existence.

So, what’s the common things they share?

However, these countries share six common denominators that account for “about 90% of human happiness”:

  1. GDP – This measure improves happiness up to a point. After a country attains about $25,000 GDP per capita annually, then, pursuing other goals, such as increased life expectancy, becomes a better use of national resources.
  2. Healthy life expectancy – Happiness and good health are inseparable. Thus, Singapore, Denmark and Costa Rica offer universal health care, and even the poorest Costa Ricans enjoy the world’s highest life expectancy. Well, I still WIP with this respect. Need to make more focused execution on this.
  3. Generosity – In happy countries, citizens are more giving toward other people. Living is giving, right?
  4. Tolerance – People who are free to live according to their values have a deeper sense of well-being.
  5. Social interaction – People are happiest living where they can easily socialize. Thus, bike-friendly nations like Denmark rate at the top of the scale. Costa Rica, where people tend to be family-oriented, is also strong in this category. The globe’s happiest people spend six hours daily in face-to-face interactions.
  6. Trust – Happy citizens display a high level of trust in their government, the police and each other. Denmark is a world leader in this domain. Singapore, meanwhile, has successfully promoted trust amid its ethnically diverse population with a housing policy that brings different ethnicities together in “government high-rises,” rather than condoning segregated neighborhoods.

“We tend to think of health and happiness as two separate things, but actually they’re inextricably linked.”

How to Apply These Lesson You Say?

  • Meditate to rewire your brain to live in the moment.
  • Prioritize financial security over consumption.
  • Buy an inviting, respectable home with natural light.
  • Form at least three reliable friendships.
  • Seek a job you’re passionate about (side hustle you love might also works); and
  • Find a best friend among your co-workers.

Most important, choose a community that rates high on the happiness scale. Your own level of happiness will adjust within a year.


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(Blogging) Blogging is about more than money

investing in yourself, the key to happiness and fulfillment

It’s More Than Money

Investing in something bigger than yourself can bring happiness and fulfillment, just as improving other people’s lives can imbue your life and business with purpose and meaning. You can adapt these ideas for giving through your business to suit any budget:

  • Create a “giving budget,” and choose organizations to support.
  • Donate a percentage of your profits. The founder of Country Gourmet, a goodie-basket firm, gives 10% to 20% of her income to charities and organizations that help orphans.
  • Treat a single mom or couple to a night out by paying for a babysitter.
  • Express gratitude.
  • Buy grocery cards, and donate them to families in need.
  • Assemble bags of toiletries, and donate them to a local hospital.
  • Purchase items for resale from entrepreneurs in developing countries.
  • Volunteer at your place of worship or a local charitable organization.
  • Donate your skills, such as photography or graphic design, to help a worthy cause. 

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Recommended Social Media Marketing Guides

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“Start testing immediately. A little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing.”

Before Happiness (Book Summary & Review)

“If you or your team are going through a rough period, ramp up the ratio of positive interactions, even by doing something as simple as complimenting someone or bringing in doughnuts.”

Book Title:

Before Happiness, the 5 hidden keys to achieving success, spreading happiness, and sustaining positive change.

A little bit about the author:

Shawn Achor, a psychologist who teaches and conduct education-related research at Harvard University. He wrote the international bestseller, The Happiness Advantage. He spent 12 years at Harvard studying happiness. Among his talk, is this Ted Talk below which is awesome by the way.

Summary on some key reading points:

According to Shawn Achor, in order to become happier, we need to create a “positive reality” that encourages and enables happiness. Our levels of happiness and success derive from “your (our) perception of your (our) world.”

So, no matter what’s going on in our daily life, your positive reality opens the door to achieving positive change and becoming more content. When you consistently assemble your “cognitive, intellectual and emotional resources,” you will experience “positive genius…the greatest precursor of success, performance and even happiness.”

Increase your aptitude for the positive genius that leads to happiness by developing five skills:

Skill 1: “Choose the Most Valuable Reality”

Being productive requires selecting the most valuable reality from the multiple realities available to you. Author Shawn Achor first learned this lesson in the US Navy. When his captain ordered him to make his submarine “dive,” suddenly the deck beneath his feet shifted to a steep 60-degree angle. He realized why the chairs were bolted to the floor! This “Angles and Dangles” drill is a common exercise for new recruits aboard Navy submarines.

“The more you care about a goal or target, the more energy and effort you will invest in achieving it.”

“This works in the other direction too; the more you invest in a task or challenge, the more you begin to care about it.”

The 2008 economic recession turned out to be a similar “angles and dangles” exercise for the US economy. Millions of Americans lost their jobs even long-term employees with 20 or more years of experience. Those who weren’t downsized had to work longer hours under stressful conditions and less pay. However, despite these chaos, some people thrived.

To pursue your most valuable reality, view your choices from different vantage points.

For example…

A manager could decide which works better: punishing people to push them to achieve or offering rewards to pull them along. Using multiple vantage points broadens your horizons and opens your mind to many possibilities, but seeing situations from a single vantage point limits your view.

Add new vantage points to your professional life by asking, “What is work like…right now?”

Write down your answers.

Did you note any negatives, such as a hostile work environment or a heavy workload?

Did you list positives, such as having a lot of freedom and responsibility or forming strong bonds with your co-workers?

Rewrite your answer using “only true statements.”

Then create a third version of the first two realities without duplicating any details from the first two. The goal of this exercise is to broaden your perceptions by creating “three realities.”

This might be rather difficult at first, but, you will be better with practice.

Skill 2: Make A Mental Map For Success

“Powerful, yet usually hidden, mental maps” steer you when you make a choice, confront a problem or establish a new objective. You might get lost if your map doesn’t have “meaning markers”.

By the way, meaning markers is the notations of the milestones that are most important to you. Being positive becomes more difficult when you become distracted or disengaged at work, school or home. Pushing for success without meaning can lead to burnout, depression, apathy and eventual failure, but following your meaning markers increases your productivity, energy, engagement and profits.

Gallup studied men who lived to be 95 years old, and found that their average age of retirement was 80. Among these men, 93% “kept working because they found their work meaningful and 86%…because they found their work fun.”

This actually make sense since we really want to find meaning in our work while having fun.

“The better your brain is at using its energy to focus on the positives, the greater your chances at success.”

Make better mental maps by identifying your meaning markers, reorienting your plans and mapping for success, not failure.

Wharton Business School researchers studying the positive and negative effects of having meaningful work found that people have a three times higher level of motivation, engagement and productivity when their work centers on positive meaning markers. People experience higher stress and higher blood pressure when their work lacks a sense of purpose.

Finding a purpose at work keeps people working longer past the usual retirement age.

“When you smile, your brain releases the neurochemical dopamine, which improves your mood and your reality as well.”

We also need to beware of “map hijackers,”that is the negative attitudes that inhibit your success.

These may include an overemphasis on career advancement, tying your self-worth to your weight or appearance, yielding to emotional or environmental triggers, and so forth.

To achieve the benefits that solid meaning markers confer, orient your mental map around them. You’re also more likely to feel negative emotions such as anger or frustration if you focus on yourself to the exclusion of others.

Enhance your life by giving “social support” to your colleagues and increasing “the depth and breadth of your social relationships.” Scientists have mistakenly focused more on received social support than on given social support. Receiving social support does have a positive impact on job satisfaction, engagement and health, but supporting others confers even greater long-run benefits, including career advancement.

“If you’re not giving at work, you’re not getting ahead either.”

“Positive realities are contagious in both directions.”

Skill 3: Take Advantage of the “X-Spot”

The X-spot is the endorphin-driven “brain event” that occurs when you realize a finish line is near and you experience a burst of speed. For instance, the X-spot in a 26.2 mile marathon race comes at approximately 26.1 miles. The X-spot also occurs as live events unfold when you’re close to achieving your goals. Your brain calculates the distance to your goal, your likelihood of success and how much effort you need to reach it. You can “accelerate your success rates” by finding and focusing on your X-spots as “early and often” as possible.

“No matter how high your IQ, your emotional intelligence or your ability to relate to others, if you can’t learn to change your reality, you’ll never be truly inspired.”

Enlarging your perception of what constitutes success can confer the same benefit as increasing your proximity to your goal. Change your perception of reality to change the impact of your outcome. Create X-spots by breaking big projects into smaller tasks. For example, set your X-spot at the 70% mark. If your goal is to raise $1,000,000, reward your team when they reach $700,000 to give them momentum to push forward.

Writing down your progress can be a powerful motivator.

However, we need to note that not all mental tasks are equal. Some require more energy than others, and some require just the perception of more energy. For instance, giving a 45-minute keynote presentation might feel more draining than running an 8-hour training class. Exercising cognitive functions that you use regularly is less tiring than activating unused cognitive muscles. When you’re tired physically, walking up a flight of stairs can feel exhausting.

The same thing happens when you’re mentally tired. Your brain requires glucose for energy, so don’t attack hard cognitive tasks when you’re hungry. Avoid scheduling back-to-back meetings or combining two mentally challenging tasks. Increase your thrust by hiding the clock. Watching the clock makes the passage of time feel slower. Help customers make decisions by simplifying their path. If they face too many choices or lots of fine print, they won’t buy because the process takes too much time and mental energy.

“Noise is much more than just a distraction; it blocks out signals that can point you toward positive growth.”

Skill 4: Heed Positive Signals and Cancel The Noise That Distorts Reality

Information overload often makes it difficult to tell the difference between signal and noise. Signal information is factual and dependable; it opens you to fresh potentials and sources that can help you succeed. Let useful signals in by weeding out the noise, which consists of anything adverse or untrue. Fear, anxiety and other negative voices constitute internal noise that can drown out helpful, positive signals.

“Often the best way to raise success rates and increase your bottom line is to use not numbers, but meaning.”

Some people hear the signal, while others become mired in noise. Consider two financial experts. In 2006, John Paulson, who owned one of the world’s largest hedge funds, knew the housing market was going to collapse. He made $19 billion betting against the market. Economist Irving Fisher, who held a sterling reputation as a perceptive analyst, said on October 21, 1929, that stocks had reached “a permanently high plateau.” He didn’t heed the warning signs other economists saw. Three days later, the United States suffered the worst stock market crash in its history. Twelve years later, a similar event occurred when US Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, dismissed intelligence that reached him three days before Pearl Harbor suggesting that Japan would attack.

In conclusion, when smart people make such catastrophic mistakes they’ve failed to distinguish signals from noise.

Incoming information is noise if it’s “unusable, untimely, hypothetical” or simply “distracting.”

Information is unusable if it doesn’t cause you to change your behavior. It’s untimely if you won’t use it soon. Hypothetical information is what “could be” instead of “what is.” Distractions could be anything that keeps you from achieving your goals. And according to Achor, reducing noise “by just 5%” could boosts your signal and helps you lead a happier, healthier, more productive life.

And the following could help to decrease your noise consumption by at least 5% :

  • Don’t turn on your radio during the first five minutes of your trip.
  • Turn off the radio when speaking with other passengers.
  • Mute TV and online advertising.
  • Delete news media links from your bookmarks.
  • Limit your intake of predictions from political or financial commentators.
  • Avoid reading articles about tragedies you can’t change.
  • “When working, listen to music without lyrics.”

Work to cancel your internal noise. Put an end to your inner voices of worry, self-doubt and fear. “Negative thinking” whether based on fear, anxiety, self-doubt, pessimism or worry which is the most dangerous noise.

It limits your ability to hear positive signals and undercuts your efforts to make positive change. Although some fear is natural, keep it in check. Estimating the real likelihood of each scenario you worry about will force you to think more objectively about your prospects.

“Mental maps without meaning…lead to apathy, depression, burnout and, ultimately, failure. That’s because success without meaning is hollow and not worth the effort.”

“When you are distracted or depressed by some piece of information, if it doesn’t spur you to change your behavior, then that information is unusable and thus noise.”

Skill 5: Create a Positive Reality

Build a positive reality, or “positive inception,” by spreading or “franchising” success, “creating a shared narrative” around an emotional experience and rewriting your “social script,” the unwritten behaviors that control your life.

Franchising success means making behavior contagious. The 11,000 employees of the Ochsner Health System made this a priority. Ochsner adopted the “10/5 Way,” part of hotel chain Ritz-Carlton’s “five-star” customer service. Ritz-Carlton trains employees to make eye contact and smile when guests are within 10 feet. When guests are within five feet, staffers say hello. Ochsner trained its physicians, nurses, administrators, and others to smile and say hello when they come within five or ten feet of someone else. After Ochsner adopted the 10/5 Way, everything improved: health outcomes, patient satisfaction, number of patient visits and profits.

“How often have you spent more time thinking about how to get out of a phone call or lunch date than it would have taken to just do the call or have the lunch?”

A shared narrative can help make your work meaningful. Adam Grant of the Wharton Business School demonstrates this power in his book Give and Take. Grant conducted his research at a call center, where he worked with “new hires undergoing a sales and service training.”

The first group of trainees received a motivational speech from their leader in addition to normal training.

In the second group, newcomers received training and a fellow employee talked to them about why the call center was so important to the company’s overall growth.

The third group received training but no speeches.

The fourth group’s training featured speeches by both the corporate leader and the employee.

The third group made 46 sales and $3,738, but the fourth group made 271 sales and $21,376. The employee who discussed how everyone contributed made a huge difference.

“We need to stop wasting mental energy lamenting how little social support we receive…and instead channel our brains’ resources toward giving more social support.”

Social scripts often propagate negative realities. You can rewrite your social scripts and share an upbeat message. For example, change the way you begin when you make telephone calls. Instead of starting out by apologizing for a delay in getting back to someone or saying you’re swamped, start with something positive. Likewise, to motivate your team, start a meeting by saying, “I’m happy to see you all today” instead of “Let’s get going because we have so much to do.”

To make your social script more positive, heed your facial expression, body language and tone of voice. Smile, lean forward and speak with warmth. Inject humor into your conversation. Society sees funny people as being more intelligent, better leaders and more attractive romantic partners.

“If you or your team are going through a rough period, ramp up the ratio of positive interactions, even by doing something as simple as complimenting someone or bringing in doughnuts.”

Working with others in a joint effort to overcome failure or adversity often creates strong bonds. In that way, stress in the workplace can build tighter bonds. In 2011, Adobe shared a video showing how it triumphed over adversity. Behind the Splash Screen: The Making of CS5 covers how Adobe failed when it first released Creative Suite 5, one of its flagship products. In the video, team members describe with pride how they successfully revised their entire code within six months – a job that normally would take a year. 

Rating & Should you read the book:

I would rate the book at 9.5 / 10.0 for all the awesome lessons. The language is easy to read. So, it’s great.

You guys should consider getting one, or two. You know, just in case.


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