Principle Three of ‘The Happiness Advantage’, is called The Tetris Effect. I like to call it ‘Retrain Your Brain to see Things In A More Positive Way’. Achor calls this ‘The Tetris Effect’, in reference to the digital game, Tetris. I think I’ve played it a few times. He’s making a connection between people playing Tetris for hours on end and then after they quit playing and do something else, they will see common objects as pieces of the Tetris game and try to fit them in, as if they were still playing the game.
According to research, when one plays Tetris, or other games for hours on end, it can actually re-wire the brain (at least temporarily), and warp the way reality is seen – at least for a time. To get to the point of our principle for this week, what we think dictates the way we see the world around us. Logical, isn’t it.
This principle is really all about being optimistic and looking for the positive in situations. It’s the glass half full and half empty kind of thing. It’s about reframing how you think about situations to look at them in a more positive way. So instead of feeling grumpy because I’m sitting at a red light for three cycles, I should train my brain to look for a positive way to use that time.
Two quotes from this chapter made an impression on me and I’d like to share them with you:
“Optimism, it turns out, is a tremendously powerful predictor of work performance.”
Having a positive attitude at work just gives you a lift and advantage – you can draw upon it when you need a little boost to push through a sticky problem or project.
“Gratitude has proven to be a significant cause of positive outcomes.”
The author encourages us to start keeping a gratitude journal and write down a few things every day. More about this later.
People who practice having an attitude of gratitude get in the habit of looking for and at things in a more positive way. It seems these types of people will set more goals and tackle more ambitious projects than others. Makes sense because when you feel happy and positive, you’ll feel empowered.
Our companion scriptures for this week are abundant and so appropriate with this being Thanksgiving week:
Psalms 136:1 O give thanks to the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever.
Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Do You Feel Lucky?
Many of us can hear Clint Eastwood saying the above line in our heads, but let’s think about it differently. Have you ever thought of yourself as being a lucky person? If there’s a contest or a chance to win something, do you ever win?
Turns out studies have been done on this too (this book is full of studies and it has footnotes to all of them). People who think they are lucky actually win more than the people who either think they’re unlucky or just don’t really think about it at all.
I used to play bunco once a month with a group of ladies and did that for a year. Each time we got together, there was an opportunity to win 1 of 4 prizes. There were 16 of us there, so a pretty good chance of winning. I never really thought too much about winning while I was a regular member. But after I started subbing for people who couldn’t make it, I’d find myself thinking as I drove there, that I felt pretty lucky and there was a really good chance I was going to win one of the prizes that night. It worked! I think for three times in a row when I subbed, I’d win one of the prizes. It was quite amazing (and fun)! Another time, I was at a conference and they were going to randomly draw some names of people who had tweeted and I remember feeling really positive and lucky and I won a really cool computer bag. Having a positive attitude can bring positive outcomes!
Start Your Tetris Effect
Here’s our practical application – concrete things we can do…
- Make a list of the good things in your life – personal & work.
- Write down 3 good things that happen each day (your gratitude journal we talked about above).
- Write a few sentences each day about something positive that happened.
Train your brain to scan and look for the positives. If you do the above 3 things each day, you are training or retraining your brain to look for the positives. According to ‘The Tetris Effect’, after this becomes a habit, you’ll see positive things more easily and you should see a spike in your happiness too.
There is a hashtag, #ScienceOfHappiness, that you can check out either in Twitter or Facebook. Simply copy and paste the pound sign and text into Facebook, Twitter or GooglePlus and see what other people are saying and join in the conversation. Of course, leaving a comment here is always appreciated.