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What is Happiness?

Lesson 1 from: FAST CLASS: The Power of Happiness

Vanessa Van Edwards

What is Happiness?

Lesson 1 from: FAST CLASS: The Power of Happiness

Vanessa Van Edwards

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Lesson Info

1. What is Happiness?

Lesson Info

What is Happiness?

Here's our warm up for day number one. So I want you to pull out your work book or a blank piece of paper if you haven't gotten the workbook yet and turn to pillar number one. (papers rustling) We'll find that right here. Okay, so what I want you to do is very quickly is I want you to think of what are 10 things you have to pick 10 don't overthink them, what are 10 things that nourish your brain? Let's say that you're in a funk, you wake up and you're like, "urrgh, I just don't feel good." Or you get home from work, and you're like (sighs) "I just feel like a zombie." What are 10 things you could do to very quickly nourish your brain and in the audience we're gonna talk about this at home, I want you to fill out all 10 if you can. So here's the thing is we just started off with something really positive right I had to search in your brain, for something that was really nourishing and positive even just thinking about those things by the way, will often produce pleasure. The problem is ...

we're actually not wired to think that way in fact when I asked you to think of something nourishing, your brain might have been a little, (mumbles) that's my sound effect for like not working, right. ( all laugh) Like a (mumbles) I gotta know whatever you want that sound effect to be (laughs) That is because our brain often falls into what's called a Negativity Bias. So negativity bias is how we are wired and it's kept us safe. So back in caveman days, we had to think more negatively to be able to store up food for the winter, to protect us against things. So as a caveman, we had all these things we had to worry about. Is there gonna be a bear? Is there gonna be a storm coming? Will I get sick? Am I gonna be hungry? Should I store more food for the winter? Is there gonna be a clan attack? Is there gonna be a dinosaur? Am I gonna see a snake? Right there's all kinds of things that could potentially harm us when we're cavemen. So we develop this way of scanning the environment, or in our head, mentally scanning to think about all the things that could go wrong. The problem is, as we've graduated from caveman, we've lost a lot of the things that could really make us have bodily harm, and we still have kept this Negativity Bias. So we end up with the same negativity bias but with things that actually don't physically harm us. So we have money problems we worry about, we worry about traffic that might happen tomorrow, we worry about a storm coming, We worry about work problems, we worry about health problems, worry about people who are mean on social media, or should I have posted that thing? We worry about bills. Our negativity bias causes us to find something bad about every good thing that happens to us. Now for some of us, this is worse than others for me this was particularly bad I'd get something good in my life, I'd be like, "Oh, but there's that thing about it." (woman sneezes) Bless you. There's that thing about it I don't like, right? And so it is this way and I don't wanna see it angry at our brains, I just want us to change it. As I mentioned, I am my own worst buzzkill right and this is something that my husband tries very hard to get me out of is I get a job that I really like tried to get some, we go on vacation and I'll be like "but the Airbnb is so small." Right and that was my negativity bias finding something negative about it. So in your bonuses, I want us to diagnose our negativity bias the extent of your negativity bias so this is a free bonus for people. But if you have the workbook, it's also in the workbook for you. So this is right on the first page, what I want us to do is I want us to list out the things that you think about your default mentality in some of the key moments of your life. So what's the first thing you think about when you get up in the morning? The first three things, three to five things, you can just kind of list those off. How about, what is your brain default to when you're stuck in traffic? I want to know what your default setting is. Now, for some of you might be positive if you're thinking about rainbows and puppies, I am so excited for you. (students laugh) But if you're thinking about all the things needs to be done your to do list, I also want you to get really real with yourself on where you default to. We don't wanna judge it, we just want to know that's that your default. That's what we're working with. Our very first pillar This is the Now-How Technique, training our brain to have a positive bias to find happiness patterns. So retraining so we're constantly looking for happiness patterns in our life. So I think the biggest thing here is we're training our brain not to wait. So I think what was happening to me when I was not real negativity bias is I was constantly waiting for the worst instead of looking for the best. I wanna turn us instead of passively waiting for the bad thing to happen, to be actively searching for the good thing to happen. It's a very different kind of shift from passive to active, or gonna be looking and searching instead of waiting and dreading. Basically, this means going from constantly thinking about that caveman mentality of what's wrong to what's right, going from scarcity, what's not enough, not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy, to abundance. I have enough time, I have enough energy, I have enough family, I have enough health and going from waiting to exploring. Now our mindset is really about exploring. So let's shift all those mindset things is what I've been slowly working on changing my little default sets to what went well. Does this make me feel good? What looks good? This worked really great! I'm proud of the fact that I... There is plenty of_. That's what I'm going to be trying to teach us to do. And this is where we get into happiness, not being something stagnant. Happiness, I don't think is a state of being, I think happiness is an activity. It's an action. In the words of John Mason Good "Happiness consists in activity, it is a running stream, not a stagnant pool." And that is something that's a misconception that I think we have about happiness. I also love this quote, I found this hanging at a yogurt, My favorite yogurt place in Portland, which is also, worry is just a waste of the imagination. When I sit and I'm worrying about what I said to someone, or there isn't going to be enough of blank, I feel like I'm using all of this precious energy towards things that could never happen or won't actually make any effect, our brain has so much potential to create things, I would much rather have us put our mental energy towards that. Let's do our first activity. So this is in the workbook. And this is fundamental to every single thing that we will do in this entire course. This is sort of the framework for the rest of the course, so this is called your chart of happiness, and this is right after you turn to pillar number one, you'll see this sort of chart of happiness. What we are going to do is we are going to play Tetris with happiness, we are going to start to search for happiness patterns in your life. This has taken me years to develop the list of activities in this happiness chart. First, you will see in column number one, I have a list of all of the major activities that we do as adults, okay so I think eight pages of different activities broken up by different bullets, and they are very specifically designed that way. And the second column I have what's called a happiness score so what I want you to do is look at that activity, and I want you to score it from 1 to 10. So one is like, ugh, this is so unhappy making I hate this activity, and 10 is like, oh, best activity ever. Most happy making you can sing as you do it, it's totally fine too. (students laugh) That produces endorphins. So 1 to 10. on that chart, you can do point fives if you must it's funny how if I take away the ability to do point fives people get like really frustrated so 1 to 10. And then the last section is the hardest I believe and it is average time spent weekly. This is the most important part of the chart, and the reason for this is because we grossly overestimate and underestimate how we spend our time. In fact, in the very early version of this happiness chart that I first did with people, I found that when I didn't have a check of that everything in the end should should add up to 168 hours just how many hours are in a week, people have had like 220 hours in their chart, or they had way under like 75 hours I'm like, what's happening with the other 40 hours? They'd be like, gosh! I don't know. So what I want you to do is accurately think about how much time you're spending on each activity and then go back, add them all up and make sure it is 168 hours or as close to 168 hours as you can get that is going to be your check on it. In this way, we are very slowly building our Tetris blocks, right, we're sort of thinking about like, what are the different things that make up my happy chart? Like is it my dog, is it my kids, a little bit of cooking, a little bit of walking, a little bit of reading, what are the things that are making up my happiness? And this is the first hour that we're spending in making your brain play happy Tetris. So as I mentioned, those should all add up to 168. I also want you to think about in the very first section where I have the activity, I got pretty specific right I have one that has like playing on the computer and I actually have like games, music but you can get specific there too clarify for me. So if there's something that you do that I didn't list here, get really specific again, the more specific you get, the more you're actually exercising those Tetris blocks. So clarify for me get specific, at the very end of the chart, I have a couple of blanks for you. And that is for you to add in ones that I missed. Like, for example, if you're a champion ice skater, I don't have ice skating and there is an activity. So make sure that you put that in there. If I miss something really specific in those blanks. I was surprised actually, no one asked about this one, which is please don't should on me in this chart (student laughs) and what I mean by that, is don't give me aspirational answers, okay if you think you should like something it doesn't mean you actually like it all right this is not what you hope you'll like one day coz you think that makes you a good human right its actually what you like and this is why I think that your Partner in Joy is so important So I have a quick story, in the beta version of this course, we had one of our students who did this chart of happiness and her Partner in Joy was her husband. And she, they checked each other's kinda charts. And he said to her very nicely and very gently, so you rated cooking as an eight and you know, during the week when you cook, you seem really stressed, right like it really stresses you out, like thinking about the grocery store and you don't seem very nourished after that activity, are you sure it's an eight? Like, it's okay if it's less. And she didn't mean to give it an eight, but she realized that she wishes she liked cooking, but that was not actually her favorite thing she loves eating, and that's why if eating is a different category than cooking, but cooking was not her favorite. So please do not should on me make sure that you ask a Partner in Joy to double check on those things I know I love that phrase too. So here are our challenges get into our homework before we wrap up the day. One, try to take that Happiness Audit, right we're gonna take it at the end of the course as well to get your baseline number. Second, take a little bit of time to fill in your Chart of Happiness. So there's two ways to the Chart of Happiness and I was discussing this with my beta students. You can take it the really fast way, Where kinda going off your gut instinct, right 5 or 10 minutes, or you can sit and really dive in to each one, whichever feels better to you, quick or really in depth. Make sure you're checking your total of 168 hours extras please take the 21 day challenge so I can support you even after this course is done I have some fun quotes and videos in there, and I'm also gonna send you a very special video for day five you're gonna watch with us as we are live it is the video of Don't Stop believin' We're gonna sing it together, and so I actually included a video for you I've done Stop Believing here's the problem though, we don't own that song and it would cost like bajillions of dollars for creative live to buy it. So we came up with a clever work around, which is we will sing it here, it will be silent for you and you will play the video from your computer. (students laugh) I know, so I will say I have a video that video for you so it'll be totally silent, but you'll be able to sing by yourself at your computer. Lastly, if you feel so brave, take your chart of happiness for extra credit, hand it to your Partner in Joy and ask them to take it as you (chuckles) It will give a really good check on your times you can actually side built the columns that are big enough you can actually put a line down them and split them in half, you could even have them do it first, if you want, if you really wanna good check. So in this can, by the way, this can be your partner, your best friend, your parent, your colleague, your co-worker you can give them different ones you could even text them and say, how much do you think I enjoy X? How many hours a week do you think I spend on that? Right that kid's gonna help you, that's your extra credit for checking.

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