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Control: Maximize What Makes You Happy

Lesson 4 from: FAST CLASS: The Power of Happiness

Vanessa Van Edwards

Control: Maximize What Makes You Happy

Lesson 4 from: FAST CLASS: The Power of Happiness

Vanessa Van Edwards

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Lesson Info

4. Control: Maximize What Makes You Happy

Lesson Info

Control: Maximize What Makes You Happy

Today, we're talking about control, and we're gonna be talking about maximizing and minimizing. So when I talk about maximizing and minimizing, what I'm going to try and have you do, is diagnose different parts of your life that you've never given second thought to. So different things in your life that either we put up with, or we sort of do by default, today we're gonna be talking about, do those actually work for you or not? Do you wanna keep them or not? And this is gonna be about taking control of our triggers. And what I mean by triggers, are those things that either trigger an upward spiral, uh, this makes me feel really good and relaxed. Or those things that trigger a little downward spiral, where you're like, oh, I'm in such a bad mood now. I wanna start looking at those different triggers. Of course, we start every day out with a warmup and our warmup today is daydreaming. So I would like to know what do you daydream about? And at home you wanna pull out your workbook. You ca...

n actually fill this out for us. When you're sitting in the car or you're zoning out during work, what sort of topic do you tend to drift towards? It can be something fantastical and it could be something practical. What do you daydream about? The reason I ask this question is cause I think that this is actually remanence from yesterday. Daydreaming is an element of play. It's a mental kind of play. And I actually think it's a skill that either we've lost or it's been taught out of us, right? As a kid, if you were sitting and kind of looking off into space, your parents would be like, oh, what are you daydreaming about? Stop daydreaming, get back to work, get back to homework, get back to your chore. But I actually think daydream is a very beautiful thing that our mind does. It's a way that we get ourselves ready for play. Maybe we're imagining a career goal, that we wanna work towards. Maybe we're relaxing ourselves or trying to calm ourselves down. Or maybe we're trying to get our legacy in order. How we could fix this problem, right. That is actually the warmup to play. So I bring this one up because I want you to think about next time you are driving or you're waiting in line, where does your mind go to? What kind of things do you daydream about? That should be something that you should either add to your place storming list, right? Is it something that you could do or is it some kind of a skill that you wanna learn about? Is it about body language or public speaking? Is it about developing your practice? How can you add those little dreams into it? Here is the problem? So when we're talking about the opposite of daydreaming are these little tiny triggers that I like to call the bad mood monster. So one thing that we learned from our research is when we got all those audit responses back, we had people who were the happiest people, and we had people who are the unhappiest people. And one of my biggest questions, my biggest hypothesis was that really happy people would have less bad moods. But actually when we started to dig into their results, we found that they didn't have less bad moods, but they knew exactly what caused them. And they also typically knew how to get themselves out of them. So it's not that they had less bad days, or less funks or less bad moods. They just felt more in control of them. So when they had a bad mood, they were able to stop it from triggering into a downward spiral. And they knew exactly what they had to do to get out of it. So today I wanna talk about how do we understand our triggers more. So maybe it doesn't prevent any funk, but at least we feel like we know what we have to do to prevent them if we're having a really important day, or we know we have to do to get out of them on one of those bad days. Basically what we're doing today is we're trying to add steps between you and bad habits. And we're trying to remove steps between you and good habits. What I mean by this is let's say that on your place storming list, you said, oh, I want to read more, right? That's on my chart of happiness. I wanna read 12 different books, one book a month, and that's on your lists. What I would say is, okay, let's remove steps between you and reading. Let's make sure that you buy whisper sync so that when you're cooking, you can listen to the book. Let's add the Kindle app to every one of your devices, That would be removing steps. So let's say that you said, I really wanna floss more. Triangle of wellness is coming, we're talking about taking care of our body. I'm gonna floss more, like that makes me feel really good. So instead of just having floss in your bathroom, maybe you put it in every single drawer, by your bedside table, by your TV, in your car. Right? So that the floss is there. It's about thinking about what are the steps between the good and bad things. Bad habits. Let's say you say to me, I really wanna eat less cookies, and we put a padlock on your cookie jar. So all of my food, my treat food, I actually put it at least five minutes away from me. And what I mean by that is my kitchen is actually too close. It's only about a minute away, barely a minute, like 30 seconds. So what I've done is I've taken all my air foods and I can still have them if I want, but I've put them in a series of boxes. So like they're in a box within a box, within a box, within a box, within a box. Then I put the box all the way downstairs in my basement on a top shelf with a lid on it. So I can get it anytime I want. I don't like food rules for me, I do really bad when someone says to me, no cookies, well then all I want is cookies. Like that's the way my brain works. So I can have as many cookies as I want, but I have to go all the way downstairs, lift up the huge, get the stepladder, get the huge box, open the box, take off the lids. So that's what we're gonna be trying to do today. I'm gonna try to get all of those triggers a little further away. So quick question. How do you predict how happy someone will be in their job? Is it A, amount of income, B, number of friends at work, C, promotion schedule, D feelings of personal control. What do you think? How many think it's A? How many think it's B? How many think it's C? How many you think it's D. I know I shouldn't put this one first, but like I kind of gave away the answer cause the day is called control. Very good. So yes. And I find this really surprising, by the way, I didn't wanna put this into adjust. The greatest predictor of happiness at work is feelings of personal control. Cause I feel like when we asked the question, it has this question, what would be the best indicator of how happy I am at my job. So I find this really surprising. You would think that when you think about happy someone is at work, they would wanna know they're on a really great promotion schedule. Maybe they're gonna be paid really well for their work. Actually that is not the greatest indicator of how happy we are. It's how in control we are of the things that we do on a day-to-day basis. So your inner kid, (laughs) that's my dad's sunglasses. So we're going back to that idea of this inner kid. This is the second to last day on our inner kid. So when you were little, do you remember that your parents and your teachers worked very hard with your schedule? For example, I went over to my niece's house and I saw a schedule very similar to this taped onto her frigerator. I looked at the schedule and they were all in pretty colors, and it was like, oh, wake up, get dressed. 20 minutes of cartoons, morning chores, reading time. Oh, ride bikes, hopscotch. I'm like, man, that schedule looks really, really good. Right? And she had one of these for every day of summer. And I thought to myself that this actually was done for us when we were little. When we were little, our parents and teachers had conferences about how they could make our days better. They sat down, there were like, Vanessa might be hungry around 10, we better have a snack then. She gets real tired in the afternoon, we better make sure that we have a story time or nap time. And so when we were little, we had all of these, all this control really built into our life to make sure that we didn't get into the bad mood monster, right. Our parents would have a whole bag of snacks and we'd have all these things scheduled. So I actually wanna do this for us. I want us to be our own parent-teacher conference for a second. And I want us to look at how can we maximize and minimize things on our own schedule. So this is our pillar. Number four, maximize the good minimize the bad. Let me talk about the science of control. So this is a really interesting study done by Ellen Langer. So what she did is she took a group of nursing home residents and she gave them a small plant to take care of, a small little plant. She gave it to them and said, water this plant, put it on the window sill, trim it, make sure that it survives. A second group of nursing home patients were given a plant, but they were told a nurse would come and take care of it. So they put the plant on the window sill and they said, just enjoy the plant. Don't worry, the nurse will come and water and trim it and make sure it gets enough sun. Six months later, the group that took care of the plant had doubled the survival rate. I mean, that's a really big implication, and Ellen Langer likes to study control and how we feel we have control over our own environment. Now taking care of a plant isn't even that much control, but it's having something in your life where you feel like your actions are gonna directly affect the survival of this plant. And for some reason, that seems to also help your internal sense of control. And so I want us to add more control into our happiness. We talked about how there's all these different kinds of words and feelings that contribute to happiness. We talked about capability, and now we're talking about responsibility. And we don't often think of responsibility as relating to happiness. But I actually think that responsibility has a huge part to play in our happiness. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, " Happiness consists more in small conveniences "or pleasures that occur every day "then great pieces of good fortune "that happen but seldom." So this is another myth about happiness. We tend to attribute happiness to these really big things, right? Big moments, big wins, big achievements, but actually some of those really small things, taking a great shower, having a really nice nap, looking at your plant that you've lovingly taken care of. Those small moments of happiness are actually much more important instead of those one big things like a raise or promotion that happens once a year. We tend to focus all of our energy on those really big things. And we go days and days that enjoying little tiny things. So let's do an activity. So this is in your workbook for you. And this is called a life pebble activity. So you gonna turn to that page, right in your pillar number four. So, you know pebbles, if you're hiking or running and you get a pebble in your shoe, it ruins your entire run, right? Even like the smallest little pebble. The silly thing would be to try to keep running on it. Every single step you would take would just like be so annoying, and it really is annoying. It's not like a pain, it's really annoying. So of course you stop. You'll untie your shoelace. You like balance, you dump it out and then you put it back on. I think that there are life pebbles. I feel like there are things that we have in our life that like annoy us a little bit, but not enough to take off our shoe. And so we end up having these things in our life that like just every day we kind of put up with it, we tolerate it. And so I wanna sit down and I wanna actually look at the pebbles in our life, and try to take them out of our shoes, our emotional shoes. We're gonna do this with something I call your minimizer chart. So I actually have a whole bunch of activities for your life pebble in your workbook. I decided that instead of doing this together, it was actually quite personal. So I decided that I would let you kind of do it on your own. So I have seven questions for your life pebble activity in your workbook that are gonna help you fill out your chart. So once you fill out those pebble questions, I want you to fill out your minimizer chart. And in your minimizer chart, we have four different columns. First is the pebble. What is that little thing you've been tolerating or putting up with? Second, what can you control about this? So certain things you can't control everything, right? Like can't control the bills you get, can't control that you have to eat, we're humans. But there are things you can control. And a lot of the time when it comes to negative things, we forget that. We forget that we have some level of control here. I want you to get really specific about what that level is. So what you can and can't control. And then lastly, we're gonna break it down into action steps, as we've been doing. Checking email before bed. I want you to think about your digital life. What are some digital pebbles that maybe cause a little bit of headache? When do you check your email, and does that change your mood? And can you hire a professional? Like yes, there are so many ways you can remove pebbles on your own, but is there a way that an accountant or an organizer or a cleaner or a task rabbit can go and do that for you? Sometimes hiring a professional can be a very easy way to get rid of a pebble. As I mentioned, digital life and social media. I want you to think very carefully if that is a pebble in your life. One study that looked at Facebook, the study was called everything we know about Facebook secret mood manipulation experiment, which found that when we look at our Facebook feed, it affects our mood if there's a lot of negative things on our feed, it makes us feel negative. If there's a lot of positive things in our feed, it makes us feel positive. So I want you to be in control of your moods. I don't want Facebook to dictate them. Facebook is not just an idle activity. For checking your feeds, it's actually a very emotional activity. And I want you to pay attention the next time you check, how do you feel afterwards? Right, that's something that I want you to think about. "It's by studying the little things "that we attain the great art of having as little misery "and as much happiness as possible" Study your little things. And we need to take your life right now and only look at the little things, those little tiny pebbles, the good and the bad and figure out what are causing upward spirals. Big question here for this minimizer chart that I want you to think about is what do you tolerate or put up with that drains you? What drains happiness? What drains energy? What makes you feel tired when you think about it? Pebbles are these slightly draining things. So that's the question that I really want you to dig deep and think of everything in your life that you're just tolerating. You're gonna do it for yourself. Pebble can't control, can control and action steps in your minimizer chart. And I also wanna talk very briefly about maximizing the good. So we talked a lot about minimizing the bad, but I also want you to maximize the good and luckily we've already started this. So researchers Kubzansky and Richman, found that optimism and happiness source from two main emotions. Any guesses? what two main emotions do you think are the biggest source of happiness and optimism? Any guesses? Feeling engaged. Engage, good guess, other ones? A sense of purpose. Purpose. So they found that the biggest source of happiness and optimism, the first one is hope. Hope is this beautiful anticipatory state where you feel like you're gonna get something good. So actually the pre-feeling of happiness is the biggest cause of happiness, and curiosity. Curiosity is one of the best forms of optimism and happiness. You'll notice that on this list, there's all these moments of hope and curiosity, right? If you brush your teeth, remember how your parents should do this. If you brush your teeth, you can watch 20 minutes of cartoons, right? If you read, you can have outside playtime for half an hour. If you make sure that you do your schoolwork time, you'll get a story time and maybe a nap, right? So we have to also do that for ourselves. I want us to have activities that we look forward to for that hope and that curiosity. And this is where those happiness experiments come in. That was my secret way of getting you to be hopeful and curious about things. All of though, that coding that you did, of that process and place storming was figuring out what would make me feel most hopeful and curious. So in your bonuses, is your new free bonus materials I have for everyone. So I have to do is click the RSVP button for that. I have a happy calendar. And in your calendar, you can use this calendar, but you can also use your regular calendar. My challenge for you today is to think about hope. What place storming activity do you wanna try? Specifically, when do you wanna try it? And for curiosity, what happiness experiment do you wanna try? And what I want you to do is take your calendar. Oh, and of course, what can you minimize? Which hopefully you're gonna start doing right away with your action steps. I have below your little bonus calendar, happy makers and happy experiments. These are your pluses and your question marks. What can you schedule in the next 30 days in your calendar? Right, so in my calendar, I typically have at least six, and that's a lot, I'm high open, It's my job to be hopeful and curious, so I have a lot. Even if it's just one in each category, I want you to start scheduling those in. You might actually already have one. Open up your calendar, see what you have coming in next 30 to 60 days and see are any of those experiments? Are any of those things that could possibly make me happy? So I will have pop-up dining nights, tango class, wine tasting night, plant bamboo, I decided it might be kind of an exciting thing. All these different things I want you to schedule into your calendar. And do one thing every day that scares you. I think that's a lot. So I put parentheses in Eleanor Roosevelt quote. I don't know if I'm allowed to do that, but I was like every day, like that sounds so scary. So do one thing every month, okay. Like every month depends on how open you are, every week that scares you. I like to do these happiness check-ins, start, stop, continue. Sometimes in the last Sunday of the month, every Monday, once per quarter. I want you to also think about when are you gonna do these check-ins. When are you gonna look for these diagnoses in your life? There is nothing wrong with a failed experiment.

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