The Power of Happiness

Lesson 3 of 14

Train your brain to look for happiness patterns


The Power of Happiness

Lesson 3 of 14

Train your brain to look for happiness patterns


Lesson Info

Train your brain to look for happiness patterns

Let's do number one. Are you guys ready to do the first pillar? Alright. So, day number one, pillar number one in our happiness structure is the now how mindset. Everyday we're going to be doing two things when we first start. First we're gonna start off with dancing cause as we know dancing improves our moods, makes us more creative, and we're also going to be doing some kind of a warm up to get us, our juices going for the day. Here's our warm up for day number one. So I want you to pull out your workbook or a blank piece of paper if you haven't gotten the workbook yet and turn to pillar number one. We'll find that right here. Okay, so what I want you to do is very, very quickly is I want you to think of what are ten things, you have to pick ten, don't overthink them. What are ten things that nourish your brain? Let's say that you are in a funk, you wake up, and you're like ugh, I just don't feel good or you get home from work and your like ugh, I just feel like a zombie. What are te...

n things you could do to very quickly nourish your brain and in the audience we're going to talk about this. At home I want you to fill out all ten if you can. So what are a couple things you guys do? Yeah. Listen to music. Oh yes, we're gonna talk about that I think in day three. I think we're gonna talk about music a lot. What else? Prepare tasty meal. Oh, yes. Cooking and only a tasty meal, of course Not an untasty meal, yeah. (laughter) Yeah. Go to the ocean. Oh, do you live near the ocean? I live in Vancouver, Canada. Oh, yes, the smell of the ocean. Actually there's something and I won't be talking about this in the course but I'm going to talk about it right now which is called forest bathing. Anyone ever heard this term? So I think the ocean air or forest air, they've actually found is quite restorative and there's a study that was done in Japan where they had people go into a forest and kind of bathe in the forest air and they found that they had all these immune responses, positive immune responses after they spent time in nature so going out to the ocean is great. Going into a green space is great. That really is a wonderful way to chemically effect your happiness. Yes. Mine was also going to be both sort of fresh air as well as being by the water and that's something that definitely nourishes me. So what's interesting is that is talking about the perfect balance between physiology and mentality, right? You're seeing something beautiful, you're feeling very free, and also those things effect your physiology. Anybody in the back? Taking a bath. Oh, amazing. Taking a bath is the best. It also makes me go to sleep. (laughter) Some amazing books. Oh, yeah. Do you read fiction or nonfiction? Fiction. Fiction, yeah, yeah, yeah. Any others? Yeah. Listening to music and also take a walk or bike. Yes, absolutely. I love walking meditations as well. If anyone's, we're gonna talk about that in day nine. Yeah. Very similar, I like going for a bike ride. Yes, getting those endorphins going with exercise. Do you have any? Connecting with somebody. Oh, good one. So getting that oxytocin, right? Interpersonal. I love it. So here is the thing is we just started off with something really positive, right? I had you 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 are 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... (static) That's my sound effect for not working right. (laughter) Like whatever you want that sound to be. (laughter) 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 it against things. So as a caveman, we had all these things we had to worry about. Is there going to be a bear? Is there going to be a storm coming? Will I get sick? Am I going to be hungry if I store more food for the winter? Is there going to be a clan attack? Is there going to be a dinosaur? Am I going to see a snake, right? There's all kinds of things that could potentially harm us when we were caveman 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 graduated from caveman, we've lost a lot of the things that could really keep us, 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. We worry about people who are mean on social media or should I have posted that thing. We worry about bills and so what happens is none of these things could kill us, right? However we worry about them as if they will. And so we are oriented to be constantly scanning for things that might harm us and that really blocks us. As I mentioned, this happened to me in bed. This was a huge problem for me where I would keep my days so incredibly busy that I didn't have a moment to go into negativity bias or happiness. I would just schedule myself so that I had no breaks in the day because I was avoiding that moment where I would feel that dread or anxiety and so what happened was at the very end of the day, by nine o'clock, when I was finally home and done with all my to do list items, then I would look at my bed and instead of being like ah, I get to relax, I would think ah, now I get to worry. Right and I would lay in bed and I would think about all those things. My to do list, my house chores, oh I forgot to do that thing, gosh I really should be working out more, I really should have said that thing to that person, I really don't know why I said that, and all those bills to be paid and I would just go around in a loop in my head on these things. And when I started reading about the negativity bias, I realized that I was actually wired to do this. This isn't something that I had developed actually, this was a way that my brain thought it was keeping me safe and that made me a lot less angry about it and that also made me realize that I could rewire it. Does this sound familiar to anyone? The bed thing? Is anyone a worrier? Yeah, yeah, yeah, me too. So I realized this was not a problem that I had only so I had read about the negativity bias, I was thinking about how I could rewire my brain, I didn't think this was actually something that affected more people. So one of my good friends, we'll call her Laura. I've changed her name to protect her. She went to culinary school for many years. She loves cooking and I was friends with her all the way through culinary school and she finally finished and she was like I'm gonna set up my own catering business. Like, yay! She's like yay! So she cut up her business cards and put up her website and she started to get jobs. And very quickly I would call her and I'd be like Laura, how's catering business? Yeah, it's good, I got a job but ugh, they're such picky eaters. You know what, it's so far away these jobs I'm getting, I end up spending three hours driving there and then I call her next time and it'd be like yeah, I'm getting all these jobs but they're just so smushed together, they're all during the holidays, right? I can't believe it's such bad timing and they have these banned ingredients or allergic to gluten or they're allergic to dairy and I can't cook anything that I want and you know what, it's such a small kitchen. I have such a small kitchen, I can't cook anything that I want. I have no room for all of these things. There's traffic on the way to all of my jobs. I'm always running late. Every time I talked to her, there was some reason to be upset with her dream job. This was her dream job. Something she had gone to school for for years and yet she was finding something negative about every single job and I realized this was her negativity bias. This was her brain's way of trying to keep her safe but actually it was destroying her dream job, her happiness in that job. She even, by the way, complained when jobs were too big or too small. So this is when I finally said something to her cause she was like ugh, the job was too big. There's forty people. How am I gonna cook for all those people? And then she had a job for four women, a luncheon, and she's like oh, it's too small. And I was like, so really you can only have jobs that are between five and 25 people, in a big kitchen, next door to you, without traffic, not during the holidays? She's like and not picky eaters. And I was like alright, I got it, right? So we have to really think about how this negativity bias effects us in all of our different ways. 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. Bless you, there's that thing about it that I don't like. Right? And so it is this way and I don't want to see it angry at our brains, I just want us to change it. As I mentioned, I am my own worse 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, like we'd go on a vacation and I'd be like ugh, but the Air B&B 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 extense of our negativity bias. So this is a free bonus for people. So 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 in your life. So what's the first thing you think about when you get up in the morning? First three things, three to five things and you can just kind of list those off. How about what does your brain default to when you're stuck in traffic? I want to know what your default setting is. Now for some of you, it might be positive. If you're thinking about rainbows and puppies, I am so excited for you. I am so excited for you but if you are thinking about all of the things that need 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 want to judge it, we just want to know that's your default, that's what we're working with. How about you guys? What do you typically think about when you're stuck in traffic? What's your default? Yes. Just definitely about am I going to be late, am I going to be late, am I going to be late and then it's what story can I make up about being late? (laughter) Yes. Oops, did I say that out loud? (laughter) Yeah, absolutely right. How about when you're getting up in the morning, what's your first few thoughts when you get up in the morning typically? It's okay if you check your email, yeah. I probably didn't get enough sleep. Okay so yours immediately goes into scarcity. Right, did I get enough sleep? Did I get enough quality sleep? Yeah. I absolutely get that. Any others when you first wake up? Yeah. I say to myself, I need to breathe. Okay so a reminder which is interesting. That's an activity, an action step so it's not even a review, it's just breathe. I don't think I do that in the morning. Maybe I breathe a little bit but not very much. I never feel like I have enough time. Any others? Yes. I feel like my bed is so comfortable. Alright, yay, a positive one! So you are savoring. That is perfect for wow so that is a savor moment. So I want you to think about is it an action, is it a savor moment, is it a scarcity, is it a worry? Right, what are the different things you are defaulting to and do not judge them. That's okay, that's just where you are now. Typically these are the things that I was thinking about in the morning. These are a lot of my default thoughts. Is someone angry at me? By the way, I always think someone's angry at me. I have this problem where I run through all the people in my life and I'm like are they angry with me, are they angry with... I don't know why. That's a default I've had to work on very much. Can I get it all done? I'm constantly in scarcity mode around time. That's a big one for me. I think a lot of us are. So mine does not always default to scarcity about money, it's usually time and energy. Am I good enough? Will there be enough money? Did I make a good first impression? Am I thin enough? There isn't enough time! Those are the default ones that I came up with for mine and they are, very few of them were positive, if any of them were positive. Let's talk about the science of how we fix this. So yes, our brain is wired to be more negative however we can rewire it to be more positive and I actually stumbled upon this with a totally different experiment, for the different area. So there was a group of researchers that were researching how the brain works. What they did was they had students play Tetris for five hours straight. Can you image being paid to do this study? So they brought students into the lab and they had them play Tetris for five hours. And what they found was, and they were looking at the brain, they weren't looking at behavior. Students, after the experiment, reported back to the experimenters that after they left the lab they began to see the world in falling Tetris blocks. They would walk into their room and want to reorganize their room like Tetris. Or they'd walk into the park and they'd want to reorganize the benches like Tetris. They would see Tetris blocks falling from the sky. In other words, after five hours of playing Tetris, they had this Tetris lens where their brain started searching for Tetris blocks so it got me thinking, can we rewire our brain to think more positively if we are playing with happy Tetris blocks? Right if we are searching for ways to fit happiness into our lives, can we rewire ourselves to think that way? And I call this our very, very first pillar, this is the now-how technique. Training our brain to have a positive bias and find happiness patterns. So retraining, so we're constantly looking for happiness patterns in our life. So the biggest thing here is we're training our brain not to wait. So I think that what was happening to me when I was in that real negativity bias is I was constantly waiting for the worst instead of looking for the best. I want to turn us, instead of passively waiting for the bad thing to happen, to be actively searching for the good thing to happen. That's a very, very different kind of shift from passive to active. We're going to 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-how mindset is really about exploring. So let's shift all of those mindset things. This 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 is 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 wouldn'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 and 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. In 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 one to 10. So one is like ugh, this is so unhappy making. I hate this activity and ten is like ah, best activity ever, most happy making. You can sing as you do it, that's totally fine, too. (laughter) That produces endorphins. So one to 10 on that chart. You can do point fives if you must. Funny how if I take away the ability to do point fives, people get like really flustered so one to 10. And the last section is the hardest, I believe. 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 add up to 168 hours, which is how many hours there are in a week, people had like 220 hours in their chart or they had way under, like 75 hours and I'm like what's happened with the other 40 hours? And 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, very slowly building our Tetris block, right? We're sort of thinking about like what are the different things that make up my happy chart? Is it my dog? Is it my kids? A little bit of cooking, little bit of walking, 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 had like playing on the computer and I actually have games, music but you can get specific there, too. Clarify for me so if there is something you do that I didn't list here, get really specific. Again, the more specific you get, the more your exercising those Tetris Blocks. So clarify for me, get specific, and 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 in there as an activity so make sure that you put that in there if I missed something really specific in those blanks. Oh, yes, please. So I saw in here like playing online games is an activity so at first glance I might say that that's happiness but really for me, a lot of it is probably checking out. So can you talk about a little bit about that difference or... Yes, yes. Okay so any checking out activities should be five, totally neutral, right? So neutral activities are not nourishing which is why we started off this day. That's a great question with nourishing activities versus just checking out activities. I do not count checking out activities as happy making, right? In fact, I would much rather replace your checking out activities with nourishing activities. So those all should be fives. We will not be actually focusing a lot on them in this course. If they're negative at all, you want them in the lower numbers cause we're going to work on those and control in the minimizer today. Yeah. I have a question about sleeping. Yes. So obviously we feel good when we're rested but is that more of a neutral thing as it's like a necessity? So for me, that is a very happy making activity. I love having eight or nine hours a night plus a nap. (laughter) So for me, yeah, so I rated mine really high and I make it a priority, right? Like I maximize my sleep so it's totally up to you. If, and think of it this way, anything that's eight, nine, or 10 is things in this course we'll be working on maximizing. Anything that is one, two, or three, we're going to be working on this course on minimizing. Anything in the middle means you're not going to be thinking about that much. So yeah, I would number that way. That's a really good clarification. I was surprised actually no one asked about this one which is please don't should on me in this chart. 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 that you actually like it. This is not what you hope you will like one day cause you think that makes you a good human, right? It's 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 kind of charts and he said to her, very nicely and very gently, so um, 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? It's okay if it's less and she didn't mean to give it an eight, she realized she wishes she liked cooking but that was not actually her favorite thing. She loves eating and that's why eating is a different category than cooking but cooking was not her favorite so please do not should on me. Make sure you ask a partner in joy to double check on those things. I know, I love that phrase too. So here are our challenges. Getting to our homework before we wrap up our day. One, try to take that happiness audit, right? We're going to 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 you're kind of going off of your gut instinct, right? Five or ten minutes or you can sit and really dive into 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 going to send you a very special video for day five that you're going to watch with us as we are live. It is the video of Don't Stop Believing. We're gonna sing it together and so I actually included a video for you of Don't Stop Believing. Here's the problem though, we don't own that song and it would cost like bagillions of dollars for Creative Live to buy it so we came up with a clever work around which is we will sing it here but it will be silent for you and you will play the video from your computer. (laughter) I know. So I will set, I have a video, that video for you. So it will 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. It will give a really good check on your times. So I actually 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 want a good check. So and this can, by the way, this can be your partner, your best friend, your parent, your colleague, your coworker, 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 cause it's gonna help you. That's your extra credit for checking. Here's what we're going to be doing tomorrow. So tomorrow, we are going to be talking about mastery. I'm going to be talking about the design life. Today was about the chart of happiness. Tomorrow is going to be about taking our skill temperature. So we will be matching our happy activities with our capabilities and when you combine the two you get something really, really powerful. At the end of everyday, I highly encourage you, and at the end of each day in your workbook, I ask you a very simple question which is what is the most important thing you learned today? So if you have the workbook or not, I really want you to take 30 seconds to write what your happy ah-ha moment was. So throughout this course I'm going to be teaching lots of different Science. There's going to be certain things that you're like, ah-ha, that's me! Those are the ones that I really want you to take note of because that's struck something for you. So I want you to write down what was the most important thing you learned today. As research has found, committing what we learned to writing for even 30 seconds increases our retention. It helps this course stick with you for long term learning. So at the end of every day, Kenna's going to join me up here and I'm going to ask two or three of our audience members and Kenna's going to tell me her most important thing learned today so start thinking about what yours is in the audience. So Kenna, what was the most important thing you learned today? Well first of all, thank you so much. Oh, yeah. I learned a lot, my brain is going. So many things to consider for me. My biggest insight was actually about the negativity bias that when you said that we are wired to have that, what I call monkey brain... Yes. That then we can rewire that was a huge insight for me. And relief, right? And relief, exactly. That I'm not the only one but also that I can do something about it. Yes. That was mine. So before I ask the audience, at home, I forgot to mention that if you Tweet me with what you learned today, I would love to read them. My whole team is actually on Twitter right now reading all those Tweets and at the end, everyone who Tweets the whole ten days, we're going to look at those Tweets, pick the best ones, and I will send you a free hardcover copy of my book. So please do Tweet me. It also helps me as an instructor learn what is the most important thing for you guys. So when you Tweet me the most important thing, it helps me learn what material is most helpful for you. So it helps me as well. Always doing research, this one. Always, always. (laughter) How about you guys? What's the most important thing? Yes, back in the back. When you spoke about the happiness ROI and you know understanding that 50 percent is a given, it's genetic but a majority of us are really focusing 100 percent of our time on that 10 percent that's not really going to get us anywhere. So having that shift and really focusing our energy on that 40 percent. Okay, and I love it because it's also it's like going to the gym and just doing bicep curls and hoping it's going to work out your whole body. That's exactly what it's like if you're just focusing on that 10 percent. And Joleen, thank you for saying that because Vanessa I saw that in the chatroom as well when I asked them what were their biggest ones and it was that 10 percent. Let's do more than just bicep curls. Let's do like full body squats. Let's not do that again, okay? (laughter) Someone else, yes. I thought be your own buzzkill thing was really interesting. It's like the opposite of the silver lining in a cloud. So you always find that anti silver lining, you know in stuff. It's true, you know we hear a lot about be your own cheerleader, right and like when I used to read that I'd be like I'm my own buzzkill. Like I'm the downer mascot who's like drinking in the corner alone. Like, that's like what I am. I was trying to change that to cheerleader. I saw another, one more hand. Yeah. The purple bear story was really great for me because like you said, like we give so much lip service to all sorts of things and happiness is one and you're giving us these skills that we can now put into practice to actually do something about it and I really appreciate that. Yes, real, real skills. No more lip service. Jennifer, I had to get you, too. Yeah, yeah. I loved that my happiness is a gift to the world and that is something that I really need to take everything I'm learning, everything I'm bringing in and I have to put it back out there. It's not an obligation cause I don't mean it to be a weight, it's something I have to do. It's a drive. That's right. It is a gift and we are worthy of it, right? We deserve to be happy.

Class Description

“Vanessa is the BEST!  She changed my life and I'm convinced if everyone did this course, the world would be a better place in which to live.” -Angela, CreativeLive Student
The search for happiness is your key to greater success. Do you know what makes you happy and how to get more of it? Most of us have no idea what drives our internal joy triggers. In this course you will learn that happiness is concrete and achievable. More importantly, happiness has tremendous benefits for every area of our life.

Vanessa Van Edwards has cracked the code on happiness. She runs the Science of People, a human behavior research lab. After studying the underlying patterns that drive our behavior for 4 years, Vanessa has come up with a framework for happiness - and a system for applying the latest scientifically backed happiness principles to your own life.

This class is designed to be watched over time. Just one lesson a day will keep you on track. Or feel free to binge watch all the lessons in one day! Rewatch the lessons whenever you need a refresher.

Vanessa’s methods are based on exhaustive research and solid science. This course is based on a literature review of 246 happiness studies, an audit of happiness data from over 12,000 people, and 4 years of research. The metrics that justify her research are just as compelling. Research has found that 50% of our happiness is genetic and 10% is the result of our environment. That means 40% of our happiness is influenced by behavior and mindset. Vanessa will focus on the 40% that you can address, so you can get back on track with your life and your goals.

Don’t be a passive learner! Students who purchase the class will also receive Vanessa’s comprehensive workbook with over 90 pages of exercises, charts, graphs and challenges to keep you on track to becoming a happier person.

Need an extra boost of positive motivation? Join The Power of Happiness Facebook Group to stay connected to people like you, who are retraining their brains and learning the true power of happiness.


Naomi Leila

I am so grateful for this course and for Vanessa. I took this course a few weeks ago and my happiness audit was at 100 neither happy nor unhappy. Now i feel so much happier and everything in my life has improved as a ripple effect and i am 134 on the happiness audit. This course really pays off if you put the work in and follow Vanessa's amazing guidance. It is such a fun, uplifting and brilliant course, i highly recommend it to everyone.

Jennifer Lee

Do you want to find happiness? And take control of your life, and ignite happiness in others? Are you looking to boost your self confidence or looking for ways to make your world a better place? If you said YES to these questions and are curious about the power of happiness, please check out The Power Of Happiness course with Vanessa Van Edwards! This course will awaken you and empower you with practical steps. Check it out. I guarantee you will be glad that you made the investment! Jennifer Lee A student of The Power Of Happiness

Andrea Magee

This course gave me actionable ways to think about my mindset and take some manageable steps toward improving my happiness. My cheeks were really feeling how much smiling and laughter (as well as dancing!) is included in each of the 10 days. Accepting that my own happiness is an ongoing skill to be exercised, as well as one that can encourage contagious happiness for my friends and family too.