The power of positivity

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- We are faced with an overwhelming amount of negative information each day. Whether it is from news sources, social media, politics or from the people we encounter; this immersion in negativity can quickly skew our perception on reality and lead us to believe the world is mostly bad.

Thankfully there are numerous studies that prove otherwise. Let’s talk about how the power of positivity affects our lives and success.

Years ago I watched a TedTalks featuring Shawn Achor and he discussed “The happy secret to better work.” In the 12-minute video, which I’ve watched at least a dozen times, this Harvard graduate educated the audience on three items:

1. How the lens with which our brain views the world, shapes our reality
2. How our long-term happiness is predicted
3. How our job successes are predicted

First, Shawn stated “It’s not reality that shapes us, but the lens with which our brain views the world that shapes our reality.”

Everyone has a story (the environment you were raised in, experiencing death, divorce, war, etc.). The experiences we have had and/or will have are what shape us into who we are and it’s our ability to take those experiences, whether good or bad, and use them to our advantage. The Air Force refers to this as resiliency.

Second, Shawn mentioned “90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.”

Many of us work toward getting the best house, car, clothes, etc., because we believe those things will bring us happiness. To some extent those tangibles significantly increase our quality of life but they have a very small effect on our overall happiness. So, if we change the formula for happiness, we can also change our perceived reality.

Third, Shawn showed us that “75 percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.”

The Air Force is full of Type-A personalities. People who are self-driven, extremely motivated and always striving for the next level of success. The problem we face is the fact that when we have a success we then change our goal and now there’s a new standard for achieving success. We believe that if we are successful, then we will be happy but our brain never gets there because we keep changing what success looks like. How do you define success?

Finally, regardless of what you may be faced with in life, from your past, present or future … remember that you cannot always control external events but you can control your response to those events. Be Positive, Be Happy, Be Successful!

(Editor’s note: The video mentioned can be found at https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work)