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Capitalize on Positive Experiences

Lesson 5 from: FAST CLASS: The Power of Happiness

Vanessa Van Edwards

Capitalize on Positive Experiences

Lesson 5 from: FAST CLASS: The Power of Happiness

Vanessa Van Edwards

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Lesson Info

5. Capitalize on Positive Experiences

Lesson Info

Capitalize on Positive Experiences

This is about a kind of New Look at Optimism. So we hear about, you know, be more optimistic, look at life like it's a glass half full, but what does that actually means? This is my take on optimism. How we do that from a day, in a day to day moment. I'm also gonna be teaching you something called, the Five Stages of Wow. And I think this is a really fun way to capitalize on our small moments of enjoyment. Lastly, this is about, Moment to Moment Joy, that really short-term beautiful happiness. Warmups, so our warmup today, we're gonna actually, we're gonna play an imagination game. Are you ready? And at home, I want you to play along too. This is built for you. So first, I want you to put down your pens and close your eyes at home. You better be closing your eyes. Don't be looking at me, keep perfect. Everyone's eyes are closed, and I want you to imagine that you're in a hotel room. Picture yourself in a really sumptuous hotel room. You sit on the bed, you turn on the TV and you start ...

flipping through the channels. You pick up the remote, you're flipping through the hotel channel and all of a sudden you find your favorite movie. Your favorite movie is about to start and you sit down and you can watch the whole movie for free. Your favorite movie starts. Imagine those first few scenes in your favorite movie, those favorite moments you would spend a whole evening enjoying this. Imagine the characters, your favorite scenes, all the different actors that played in that movie. Imagine the songs and the soundtrack. Savor that for just a moment. Now, open your eyes. So this little exercise, by the way, what's your favorite movie? I'm just curious, what were you imagining, yeah? Back to the Future two. Back to the Future two, okay, I like it. Who else has a favorite movie? What were you imagining, yeah? You've Got Mail. Oh, right, You've Got Mail, oh yeah, Classic, yeah? The Big Lebowski. The Big Lebowski. So, here's the science of the power of excitement. Just thinking about watching your favorite movie, increases your endorphins by 27%. That's a crazy finding, right? Just sitting there, not even watching a movie, just imagining it increases your endorphins. These showed us the power of our memories that power of something that has made us have pleasure at one point can continue to give us pleasure even after it's done. Endorphins are these wonderful chemicals that make us feel happy and excited and hopeful and we know that hope is incredibly important for happiness and optimism. Bottom line here, is you don't have to actually take a vacation or be on a vacation to enjoy a vacation. Just anticipating the vacation that's coming and savoring and reminiscing about the vacation in the past, is enough to have you reenjoy that vacation. That's actually very beneficial for us. It means that even if you take one vacation a year, it can give you pleasure all year long. So, happiness is mostly the anticipation of event and the memory of it. This is another myth about happiness that I wanna bust. We typically think about happiness as in the moment, but actually happiness is a before and after activity, just as much as it is that individual activity while we're doing it. We don't think about it that way. Your inner kid. So I was babysitting my niece and when I was taking her out to get ice cream, I thought she was most excited for the ice cream. The whole point of the journey was the ice cream trip, but there was so much joy to be had that had nothing to do with the ice cream, my power windows, the air in her face, the dog that we drove by, the pretty plastic flowers, all these things were giving her joy. The ice cream was great, but there were so many other moments of wow. When you're with a kid, they are constantly asking questions and they're like wowed with the world. I wanna bring some of that wow back to us. Here's the problem, is we are not very wow oriented. We are typically oriented towards achievement, getting things done, finishing accomplishments, eating the ice cream. We're not as oriented towards the feelings. For example, I was watching a Ted Talk and this was one of those Ted Talks, it was great. I mean, 18 minutes long, it was about a really powerful topic and the speaker was hitting his points and he was building this crescendo and it was awesome. And at one point he makes his point and the audience begins to erupt in like a spontaneous standing ovation and he missed it. The audience was swept up by his speech, but because he was on point to finish his talk and he didn't want or expect a standing ovation til the end of the talk, he kept talking and there was this moment, they showed the audience, everyone was like, "Wow, oh, he's still talking, everyone sit back down, sit back down." And he missed this moment where he could have had his peak right in the middle where he maybe wasn't expecting it, but people were swept up in that all that he had delivered, but he was waiting for the end. So I don't want us to miss those high moments. The other way that we miss some of our moments of wow, is we don't like to celebrate. How many times have you heard someone say, "Oh, I hate when someone gives me compliments, when someone compliments me, it makes me so uncomfortable." Or, "I don't know how to celebrate." And you have a big win at work, you achieve something big and you say, "What are you gonna do to celebrate? Keep working, maybe I'll go out to dinner." Cause we're very bad at celebrating our successes. So sometimes we even have moments of awe, compliments, successes. We have these moments of relaxation time where we just busy ourselves and ignore the moment completely and we miss these great moments of wow for ourselves. Can anyone relate to this? We're gonna pull out the red and green cards we gonna use them again today. I think, I okay so, except for everyone, except one, which I'm so glad that you can enjoy those moments. We're going to learn from you in a second, because this is something that was a real big problem for me, where I would try to achieve all these things, I would ignore all my feelings and I was onto the next thing. I never stopped to enjoy that moment. I think this falls into two different approaches. And this is one thing we learned from the happiest people in our study, is the happiest people in our study they typically had, The 'Play' Approach. So here are the two different approaches. The unhappiest people, when you talk to talk to them about different parts of their life, they typically always had a wrong or a right. There was very little gray area, either something was good in their life, or it was bad in their life. Something went wrong or something went right. They typically thought much more carefully about their choices because they didn't want to get a wrong choice and they were much more should driven. So I would ask them questions like, why did you decide to make that decision? Why did you choose that career? Why did you choose to live there? And a lot of it had to do with shoulds as opposed to wants or desires. And also there was a lot of shame around wrong decisions. That shame was constantly pulling on the current happiness, as if it to say you can't enjoy the current moment. You have too much shame about this. You should be worrying about the past. Now the play approach, when we talk to some of the happiest people, they used different kinds of words when they were describing things. We found that they had a much more experimental approach. This is how I came up with the idea of happiness experiments. They would say things like, well I tried it, and it was okay. You know, when I, they didn't usually say experiment, but they would say I tried it or I dabbled in it, or I played with the idea or I was trying something for a while and it didn't end up working. And there was no judgment on that working or not working. They tend to be much more curious and they were excited about more things. So I would ask them about things that they enjoyed and they would physically show me excitement. Oh, I love my ceramics class, my teacher is so funny, I made all these, and they would explain it to you with excitement. With the unhappiest people, when I asked them what's the most enjoyable part of your life? They would tell me without any excitement. And I actually think this is because as adults, we've been taught, you should be nice and even keel. Don't get overexcited. You'd had parents who would tell you, don't get overly excited, don't get overly dramatic. So they would say, oh, you know, I really enjoy, going to brunch with friends, really enjoy reading the newspaper, occasionally I go on vacation with my husband. I'm like, are you reading the attacks list? Like, where is the excitement here? And they would always laugh when I told them that because they didn't even realize they were actually taking away that excitement. They didn't let themselves go there. And so they were much more excitement and judgment free if things did or didn't work. So now let's talk about the five stages of wow. So, I think this is about capitalizing on the positive experiences that we already have. These are those moments, those mini celebrations that we kind of go, yeah, I'm excited about that, but I'm not gonna get myself all worked up. I want us to get ourselves worked up about it. I want us to have those five stages of wow. Now most people know the five stages of grief. And I think that we've talked a lot about in the society about processing our negative emotions. And that is incredibly important, but I don't think we talk enough about processing our positive emotions. If we're focusing on grief, we should also focus on celebration. We should also process pride and make it last as long as possible. Cause if we focus on the positive emotions, it helps build us up for those times when we might have negative emotions. The very first stage is anticipate. So before any positive thing ever happens, you can actually enjoy it just by anticipating it. So for a moment, think about if you knew that you were about to get chocolate. If I were to say to you, oh, I'm about to give you the best creamiest chocolate. Your mouth starts to get excited about it, it starts to water. You think about the smell of that chocolate, the creaminess of that chocolate, and you are beginning to produce endorphins. Now, the best thing is when you can anticipate something and actually get it. So I actually do have chocolate for you guys here in the studio. My favorite chocolate, See's Candy. Kate's gonna help me pass it out. You can pass it on down, anticipate and you shall receive. Here at CreativeLive, I'm like Oprah chocolate for you, chocolate for you, chocolate for you. Go at home, go get yourself some chocolate, go in your fridge, ground up some chocolate cause you deserve it after that anticipatory experience. So here's, The Science of Anticipation. When we think of activities or even future plans, like it doesn't even have to be a set activity. Just thinking about doing something that increases dopamine in the brain. So dopamine is the pleasure chemical. It actually is what we get when we get a gift or eating that chocolate. And just thinking about it helps release that dopamine. So just thinking about eating chocolate or watching our favorite movie or taking a vacation makes us happy. Bottom line, we don't actually have to be eating cake to enjoy eating cake, it's by the way, anticipating eating chocolate or cake is calorie free. That's the nice part. If you know that you're gonna treat yourself to something, do not think about it. The best thing you can do is if you're on a diet or you're watching something and you're like, you know what, I'm gonna have birthday cake tomorrow night. The best thing you can do is be like, I get birthday cake tomorrow night. That means you get to enjoy it for days leading up to it. And then afterwards savoring it. Oh, wasn't that cake so good? Want a quick boost? I had to include this study, even just planning a vacation, even planning a vacation that you can't afford yet, actually triggers dopamine. So in this study, sorry for all the texts, the highest spike in happiness happens during the planning stage. This is crazy. They actually get more dopamine planning a vacation than actually being on a vacation. The effective vacation anticipation, boosted happiness for eight weeks just planning it. After the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels. So what I want us to think about here is, when you have vacation time, don't actually wait til the last minute to plan it, even just doing internet research, looking at pictures online, sending emails to friends, asking, have you ever been here? All that planning, even if you're sending out one email every few days, it's actually the most inefficient way, but happy making way to plan a vacation, cause you're able to sort of pull out the dopamine every time you start planning it. Caution, I have a cautionary note here. One thing I don't want you to do is anticipate for too long. And what I mean by this is when I was little, I really, really wanted a pair of roller skates. They were adorable. They were white with pink wheels and they had glitter shoelaces. So I asked for them for my birthday, I got them for my birthday and they were like perfectly white. So I was like, oh my God, like, I can't go out on the street until I'm really good at roller skating cause I don't wanna scuff them up. So I'd wear them like around my room, and I would like shuffle in them cause I had carpet and I did this for like a few months and then I grew out of them and I couldn't ever wear them. It's like the saddest story because I anticipated it for too long. Like I was waiting for the perfect day, the perfect moment, when I was a perfect roller skater, cause in my imagination, I was gonna like saunter out of my house and like roller skate down the street, and everyone, and I'd be like, hello, look at my new skates. But I waited for that perfect moment for too long. So anticipation is not about overplanning the perfect thing, it's about trying to enjoy every moment and then taking it whether it's perfect or not. Set number two, savoring. So when you're actually in the moment, how can you savor more? And savoring is when you have that moment, it's kind of a body moment. This is less mental and more body. So when you're like, ahhhhhhhhh or mmmmmmm or wowwwwww. Those are that those moments in your body. We typically skip right over those, especially me I am not feeling oriented. So I am usually about like, oh, this is great whereas I don't take that moment to be like, oh, this is amazing. I very rarely take those moments. And there was a difference between this is great and like, this is amazing in your body. So go with me on this for a second. This is actually called, the undoing effect. That feeling in your body of like almost unraveling or reveling in the excitement is something they call the undoing effect. So in this study, participants were asked to give a difficult speech to a panel. It's a very typical thing, by the way, in a lot of studies and their blood pressure and heart rate were measured before, during, and after this experiment. They were shown videos with different emotional responses. So one group was shown a neutral video of like a commercial for laundry detergent. One group was shown a kind of angry video of like a rally. One group was shown a video of like a person dancing through the field with beautiful views. What they found was the positive emotion videos, helped lower blood pressure and heart rate. They made participants feel more relaxed. Now this is obvious, okay, yeah. Good videos cause you to feel calmer, but it's also not obvious because we don't often think of those small moments of joy as physiologically changing the feeling in our body. And so next time you have those small moments of little pleasure. They were just looking at videos of sunsets. It wasn't like they were in a sunset. They were just looking at a video of a sunset, even just that lower their heart rate and lowered their blood pressure. So the next time you have a little moment, you put a great stick of gum in your mouth. You see a pretty set of flowers. I want you to think about how can I savor this moment just a second longer? I call it adding five seconds. So the right feelings can also help us be more effective. So not only do they feel more relaxed when they went out to the panel of judges, they also performed better. So it's not just about the pleasure it gives us, it's also about right before we go into the next task, doing the task better. You have a lower heart rate, you're gonna be much more relaxed yield to focus on the task at hand. So I've decided to add in rituals to my life and I wanna encourage you to add these wow rituals into your life. So for example, I used to go in every morning to my kitchen. I started every morning with a big glass of tea. I would like shuffle into my kitchen and I would like grab my glass, my mug, whatever was in there, open up my tea bag, put it in there, steep it, walk upstairs. I did this every day. And I realized that there was a possible moment of mmmmmmm here. So instead I decided to get like really cool, like gravity mugs. I got one of those beautiful steepers. I decided to grow mint in my garden. This was a happiness experiment. And every morning I go outside, I pick a few fresh leaves of mint. It's gorgeous fresh mints. There's nothing better. I take into my kitchen. I had this little grinder, this really pretty grinder that I bought sits on my counter and I grind my mint. It smells amazing and I boil myself fresh mint tea. I look forward to that so much when I get up in the morning. And by the way, if I ever don't have time, I can always grab a bag. That's always there. So I would say I do this like four times a week and it's this moment that I savor, I look forward to it, I'm in the moment and it helps me enjoy the smell of the tea, the taste of the tea so much better. So this is a really small thing that I want you to start thinking about how you can build rituals? The other thing I noticed that I did, is I typically ate and worked. To lunch, I would typically take my lunch up to my desk, work at my desk. And I realized that, that was actually a lost moment. I would often have really yummy lunches. So I realized that instead of working through lunch, I would take my lunch and I got to pick one Ted talk. So every lunch I watch an 18 minute Ted talk and I don't do any work during that time. It helps me enjoy my food and I get to watch a Ted talk, whether it's funny or serious. I want you to also savor this journey. So we're here in this room, we're talking about happiness. We're doing, I think the most important work that we can do, which is actually looking at our life and saying, how can I maximize the good in my life. At home you're taking very little bit of time every day to watch these videos, savor them. When you laugh during the video, pause it, take some notes, pause it, do your exercises in the workbook. Savor every activity cause these are the activities that we don't often get to do or we don't get to think about these questions a lot. Other savor worthy activities, lots of ideas and I have tons of ideas for you in here. So getting a joke of the day email, taking afternoon tea, doing walking meditations, watching random movies, making playlists, there are so many different ways that we can start thinking about adding these really small rituals into our life. And of course, this is about the means not the end. Instead of finishing things like growing a mint plant and being like, oh my mint plant is now done. I enjoy that every day. There is no finish to that project. So also want you to think about, yes, I want you to get to the end of the course, of course. But I also think the enjoyment is doing the course every day. So what could use an extra five seconds? Now I want in the audience I want you to just think about this at home. I want you to fill out at least three rituals that you can do. I'm gonna ask you in the audience, what could use an extra five seconds? You were gonna build an extra mmmmmmm, ahhhhhhhhhh and wowwwwww seconds. Where would you add it? And while you guys are thinking about that, I wanna play a really quick video. So this is actually a video of me in my garden making my tea. CreativeLive came up to my house and took a video of me doing it. So we can, you can kind of see what it's like in person. It's real, there's my little mint. Guy I have, I call my herb castle. So I pinched my, cause it looks like a little castle of herbs. Pick my mint every morning, take it inside. There it is. Put it in my little mortar. I love that little thing, that little marble bowl, I got it on Amazon. Grind it all up. I was able to feed and actually not feed, give steeping hot tea, that was so hot, we could barely drink it. So it kind of grinds it up. That's also, when I usually do gratitude exercises is actually when I'm grinding those mint leaves, it smells amazing. So grinding it up, pour it in it sort of steeps to this like amazing neon green color. And it's just like the greatest thing you've ever tasted. I bought these really cool spoons. Yeah, the spoon. And that spoon gives me so much joy. That little spoon. So I also am a sucker for fresh flowers. Those are a little savor moments for me. So that's one of my rituals. I'm big into hiking. I live right on the forest and so I always do walking meditations. I like forest bathing. So these are ways that I add like five seconds to my day. I also like doing meditations in the forest and I have a bunch of apps and our virtual toolbox if you want to do that as well. And so a bunch of other activities for you. So what are yours? I've shown you mine. Oh yeah, I love watering my garden. So what are yours? The third thing, the third step on the stage of wow is to clarify. So what I mean by this, and this is actually comes from my dad. He always used to say, "Things end but memories last forever." I think that's sometimes, especially as adults, we have these great experiences, big or small, and we don't sort of categorize them as a memory. If that makes sense. Like when you're little, you have all these kind of big moments. The moment you walked, the moment you took your first drink of water, or the moment you tried this for the first time, the moment you went to your first party, the moment went to your first dance. There's all these firsts. And then when you hit about 20, the first kind of there's no more first left. That's why I like bucket lists so much. So you're trying things new. So you go weeks, months, years without really having a first or a big moment. I want us to start turning our moments into memories. That even that flip of this is happening to me and this I'm taking a mental snapshot of this, can help you add that extra five seconds. So I think that clarifying, oh yeah, I have some science for you here, is about sharing things in different modes. So there's this concept called multimodality. And what this says is that experiencing something in as many modes as possible from seeing it to hearing it, to touching it, to smelling it actually makes that memory last longer. So I want us to think about with your experiences, how can you add modalities? How can you savor the smell or take a picture or share it with someone? How can you add that layer because that expands the positive little nugget into something that's longer and stronger. So, one thing, one way that I do this, if this works for you, is I typically when I'm enjoying something, it could be as small as something that I'm eating or when I'm at a place. I try to think of one word that defines the experience. I found that if I add the one word that adds a modality to it, sort of an explanation and it turns that experience into a memory. It's very similar to adding five seconds at the end of the day. You're putting something into bullets or writing. I will do this all the time. So when I'm thinking about a vacation or a day or an experience, I'll be like, ooh, this was so adventurous. Or this was so challenging. And I'll think about that word and it helps me turn it into something that stays permanently with me. Step number four is capitalizing. So capitalizing is a actually a term that helps us exponent make us make our happiness exponential. Capitalization is when you share good news with someone and your happiness multiplies, the positive benefits of the experience. It also strengthens the bond between the people involved. So capitalization is a term that we use in many, many different areas of psychology, but I actually like the idea of capitalization for happiness. The moment you share, what makes you happy, it actually increases the happiness for you and it infects the happiness for other people as well. So how do you capitalize on Christopher McCandless, "Happiness is only a real when shared." After his long journey, he realized wrote in his notebook that happiness is only real when it's shared with other people. And this is getting us ready for day seven. Share Your Happy. I think that there are three different ways, main ways to share your happy. And I want you to pick the one that feels most comfortable for you. First, communal, right? This is kind of the broadcast effect. We're set up for this Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, you're taking you're happy and you're broadcasting it out to sort of a group of people who follow you or support you. Secondly, one-to-one. So this is knowing that you're gonna have a good experience and you're gonna share it by texting and emailing, calling. You're gonna actually take this experience and you're gonna give it to one other person. You're gonna explain to that one other person what you're experiencing. Last one, archiving. So archiving is an interesting way of sharing because you're actually thinking about how you're gonna share this for either your future self. When you go back and look at pictures or your kids, your grandkids, your spouse, that's a different kind of happiness that I think still counts and that's capitalization. So awe is a very specific happy making emotions. A little bit different than like joy or excitement. And from a scientific perspective, awe is one of the most powerful levels that we have. So awe inspiring your experiences. There's so many benefits. They boost our immune system, they have an anti-inflammatory effect. They help with depression and heart disease. That moment of like, wow, look, when you see a really great view and you're just, oh, like in awe, that is incredibly powerful in the body. So I want you to think about how you can build more awe even into your daily life. Those little moments of like, wow, this flower is so beautiful. I planted this in my hand and it's so beautiful. I also want you to think about little routines. What's on your desk? What's on your bedside table? Is that happy making? Is that joy producing? What's on your dashboard? Your desktop or your dashboard on your computer. What's on your bathroom mirror? Is you have post its or quotes or pictures. What's on your kitchen table? What's on your home screen? Look at the things that you look at every day and don't look at them the same way. I have more ideas and our favorite Instagrams. I also think that in your Instagram feed or in your Facebook feed, you can follow friends, but like follow national geographic. Follow amazing photographers, follow people where they're posting pictures and their inspiring pictures. So I have some of my favorite Instagrams on our virtual toolbox page and those are all included for you so you can follow a bunch of my favorites. The last one. So once your moment of happy is over, how do you keep getting joy out of it? How do you reminisce for it? The Science of Reminiscing. So reminiscing gives us a new perspective or self-insight towards current problems. It tends to put us in a better mood. So it's actually an upward spiral and it helps us more enjoy the present happiness. Even if it hasn't have anything to do with what we're doing right now, reminiscing about good experiences helps bring you more into the current happiness state. I think that the best way to reminisce when I was thinking about how do you make reminiscing an action step? Like we all know, yeah, sure, that's great. How do I turn this into an action step black and white? I was thinking that we should do something called, Mental Time Traveling. So mental time traveling is when you utilize moments of either worrying, when you're thinking about your to do list or moments where you're just totally blank. Like you're totally like, oh, I'm too tired. You actually use those moments to reminisce on good memories. So, I want you to think about just for a second, let's think about what you wanna reminisce about, what memory or period of your life gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling? I want you to write down some things that come up for you at home in your workbook. What are your happiest memories? And that's why I had you do this list. This multimodality list. That was actually my trick to get you ready for this one. I want you to go through that list and all the memories you wrote down for those positive words, that's where I want you to mentally time travel. That's where I want you to go when you're mentally time traveling. And then of course, what's the one word for that memory? Hopefully you've already done that, but you can start thinking about other happy memories you would like to time travel to. So that's the what, how about the when? So if you had to pick one time in your life to mentally time travel, that's your mental time travel time, when would you do it? Here are a couple suggestions. So waiting in line, waiting at a red light. If there's a specifically long red light, waiting to board a plane before sleep. So mine is this one, waiting to board a plane. So I ain't travel a lot. The most anxiety provoking experience of traveling for me, is when it's like the cattle call, and everyone's like, like, is it my row yet? Like, is it my time yet? That for me is like, oh, like, it's so stressful. So I've decided that's one of my pebbles. I cannot change having to do it. I can't change that, but I can use that as mental time travel time. So typically when I'm standing there waiting my turn, that is when I kind of go through past trips, I go through what went well, I have my own mental time travel things I go through. So just to review, all of these things can happen in the moment. So you're like, oh my gosh, I'm about to get salad bar for lunch. We have salad bar for lunch today. I'm so excited, oh gosh, this salad bar is so good. I love all these vegetables. Oh, this is like crisp. The word for this is just for fresh. It's such a fresh salad bar, I gotta take a picture of this for Instagram. They're gonna love it. I'm gonna put it on my Instagram. They're gonna love this huge salad bar. And then we get into here and we're like, oh, wasn't that so good. That is the process. Very, very quickly of what that is. So that can happen in the moment, that can also happen while you're waiting or daydreaming. So mental time travel can also happen with this. What can I anticipate today? What can I reminisce about? So you can activate this from the back or from the front, depending on where you are.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Desktop Backgrounds
Best Future Selves
Citation List
Happiness Audit
Happiness Benefits
Happiness Means Forgiveness
Happiness Scripts
Happiness Structure
Happy Calendar
Happy Reading List
K10 Test For Distress
Partner In Joy
Power of Happiness Workbook
The 4 Motivators
The Giving Warmup
Virtual Toolbox