Relationships are a key ingredient in happiness

Have you ever wondered what it takes to live a healthy and happy life? New research from Harvard reveals that, after 80 years of study, the answer may be simpler than you think. Through years of data collection and analysis, the study has identified certain lifestyle habits that are strongly correlated with health, happiness, longevity and fulfillment.

In 1938, scientists started to track the health of 268 Harvard students. This was during the Great Depression. They wanted to learn how to live healthy and happy lives. The study lasted for 80 years and is called the Harvard Study of Adult Development. Researchers collected lots of information about the physical and mental health of these students. They looked at their relationships, careers and other lifestyle habits.

The study demonstrated that close relationships are far more important than wealth or fame when it comes to living a long, healthy and happy life. This was true across all social classes, regardless of IQ or genetics, indicating that even those with few resources can still experience the same benefits of close relationships.

Fostering supportive connections within the workplace should be a priority. This can help employees feel more supported and less stressed, leading to greater job satisfaction, which ultimately leads to improved performance. Additionally, leaders should look for ways to encourage social connections with colleagues outside of work.

 

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Having a sense of purpose is essential. People who had meaningful goals and aspirations were more likely to live. Efforts should also be made to promote mental health. Leaders should be open to conversations about stress and mental health and consider ways to engage employees with purposeful activities, as this can have a major impact on productivity. The bottom line is that understanding these principles, leaders and organisations can build meaningful connections with individuals.

You can read the original article here.

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

 

Where do your emotions ‘live’?

Imagine a life without  emotions. No happiness, no sadness, no anger, no fear.  It’s hard to even fathom, as emotions are such a taken-for-granted part of everyday life. But have you ever stopped to think about where these emotions come from?

That’s a complex question and it has intrigued scientists for decades. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, psychology and  technology, we now have a better understanding of the brain’s role in generating and processing emotions. It  turns out, they don’t just come from one specific area of the brain.  Instead, different parts of the brain work together to create and regulate your emotions.

The amygdala, the insula and the periaqueductal gray are three key structures that play a significant role in emotional processing. The amygdala, located deep within your brain’s temporal lobe, is often referred to as the ‘fear centre’. It’s responsible for detecting potential threats and triggering fear responses.

 

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The insula, on the other hand, is involved in both physical and emotional awareness. It governs the powerful negative reaction you have to unpleasant smells or tastes – disgust. Neuroscientists believe that the insula creates links between your internal states, your feelings and your conscious actions.

The periaqueductal gray, located in your brainstem, also contributes to your emotional processing. It is involved in pain perception. Plus, it moderates your reactions to pain-reducing compounds like morphine and oxycodone. So it’s no surprise that it also plays a role in regulating fear and anxiety.

As we learn more about the brain’s role in emotions, we are also gaining a better understanding of how brain function can impact emotional responses. This has implications for emotional intelligence, mental health and even leadership.

If you’re intrigued and want to delve deeper into the captivating world of emotions and the brain, I recommend reading the source article here. Keeping up-to-date with the latest research helps broaden your knowledge and aids in creating effective strategies for emotional health and well-being.

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

 

What’s going on in a narcissist’s brain: a new study reveals intriguing patterns

Are you curious about what goes on inside the mind of a narcissist? A recent research study has shed light on the intriguing neurological patterns that underlie narcissistic personality traits. It provides valuable insights into the complex interplay between brain circuits and personality traits.

It turns out that a specific brain circuit serves as a powerful predictor of narcissistic traits. This circuit involves regions such as the lateral and middle frontal gyri, angular gyrus, Rolandic operculum and Heschl’s gyrus. But the discoveries didn’t stop there. The research also uncovered an intriguing combination of normal and abnormal personality traits that can be used to forecast narcissism.

 

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On one hand, traits like openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness appeared to be linked to narcissistic tendencies. On the other hand, traits such as borderline, antisocial, insecure, addicted, negativistic and Machiavellianism also played a role.

The significance of these research findings cannot be understated. They provide a scientific basis for understanding narcissistic behaviour and offer hope for improved approaches to dealing with narcissists at work and home. As the study’s lead researcher says, “This research opens up new avenues for exploring narcissism and provides a foundation for further investigations into personality disorders.”

You can read the original article here.

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

 

What neuroscientists say about motivation

Do you ever wonder why some days you’re bursting with energy and ready to seize the day, while others you struggle just to get out of bed? No, it’s not just a lack of self-discipline or  willpower. It turns out, your brain might have something to do with it. For example, sometimes motivation is fuelled by a neurotransmitter named dopamine. This is often referred to as the ‘reward chemical’ because when your brain releases it, you feel good!

It turns out that dopamine levels are closely linked to motivation levels. Higher amounts of dopamine can increase motivation while lower levels can decrease it. This is because dopamine acts as a signal for your brain to seek out rewards and motivates you to take action towards achieving them.

 

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However, not all motivation is linked to dopamine. Goal-oriented motivation is associated with adrenaline and norepinephrine.  And intrinsic motivation is linked to endorphins (or ‘feel-good’ hormones) and serotonin. So what does this all mean? Essentially, different types of motivation are influenced by different brain chemicals.

So why is all this important? Understanding the neuroscience behind motivation can help you fuel states of  high motivation, maintain them for longer and even recover from a dip in motivation. For example, if you’re struggling to find the drive to complete a task or reach a goal, knowing which neurotransmitter is involved can help you find ways to increase its levels and boost your motivation.

For example, if you’re low in dopamine and feeling unmotivated, doing something you enjoy will help change your mood. Or if you’re feeling stressed,  which can lower dopamine levels, doing some physical exercise can help increase it. So the next time you’re feeling unmotivated, remember that your brain chemistry is playing a role.  Most importantly, you can take steps to fuel it and reach your full potential.

Four steps to try today

  1. Focus on your One Big Goal. This is a goal that matters to you, so focusing on it will increase your dopamine levels and keep you motivated.
  2. Talk to people who inspire you. Positive social interactions can increase serotonin levels, leading to increased motivation.
  3. Break tasks into smaller chunks: This creates multiple moments of achievement, which can trigger dopamine release.
  4. Savour some chocolate. This is my favourite, so I had to include it in this list. Just don’t overdo it! Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that can boost dopamine levels.

You can read the original article here.

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

How your brain drives empathy

Empathy is an incredible force, granting you the power to connect with others on both an emotional and intellectual level. It narrows the gap between individuals, promoting social unity and cohesion. If you’re interested in how this happens, here are some key points from an article about the parts of your brain involved in feeling empathy.

Mirror neurons play an important role in empathy. These fascinating neurons respond to others’ movements, expressions and actions – and help connect with and seem to experience the same sensations as them.

This process of mirroring starts during infancy, when babies observe their caregivers’ faces. By mimicking, infants learn to decipher adults’ gestures and facial expressions. This sets them up to recognise and respond to others’ emotions.

 

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In addition to mirror neurons, being empathic also involves using your prefrontal cortex (PFC). This is responsible for regulating social behaviour and understanding others’ perspectives. The anterior insula is also involved in processing emotional experiences. It helps you differentiate between your own emotions and those of others.

Understanding the neurobiological bases of empathy has significant implications  for your professional life. Working on your emotional intelligence and empathy can improve your relationships with co-workers, clients and customers. It will make you more influential, impactful and respected.

Read the original article for more information about your brain on empathy here.

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

 

Dna versus outlook: what science tells us about happiness

Have you ever wondered what the secret to happiness is? The ABC News article, “The Science of Happiness: What Makes People Happy,” dives deep into exploring what it is that makes us happy, and how business leaders can apply its findings to their own lives.

The article starts by looking at a study of identical twins raised in the same household who reported different levels of happiness. The study found that 40% of our happiness is within our control, and not predetermined by factors such as genetics or environment. It then goes on to explore the science behind why we feel happy, looking at research from neuroscience and psychological studies. It suggests that positive emotions such as contentment come from connecting with those around us, performing meaningful activities or work, setting achievable goals and challenges for ourselves, and taking care of our physical and mental health.

This article provides helpful insights for business leaders interested in improving employee satisfaction and productivity. Knowing that our level of happiness is largely within our own control should be empowering for managers and supervisors, reminding them that they have the power to make positive changes in their team’s work lives.  Encouraging employees to set achievable goals, taking regular breaks and engaging in meaningful conversations with colleagues are all simple actions that can have a positive impact on workplace satisfaction and employee engagement

Ultimately, the science of happiness is complex and individualised. However, understanding what makes us happy on a deeper level can help business leaders create more productive and

 

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Encouraging collaboration between employees, providing challenging tasks and goals while also offering support when needed, as well as promoting physical activity like yoga or meditation classes during lunch breaks can all help to create a happier workplace environment which will ultimately lead to higher job satisfaction amongst your workers.

In conclusion, while the science of happiness can be complex and unique to each individual, understanding its principles can provide helpful insights for business leaders looking to improve their team’s satisfaction and productivity. Encouraging meaningful conversations with colleagues, setting achievable goals together, and taking regular breaks are all simple ways business leaders can use these insights to.

Offering tools such as goal-setting plans, tips on creating effective teams, motivation techniques and stress management strategies this service is sure to give any manager or supervisor the resources they need to build an engaging workplace where employees feel valued and motivated.

Find out more in the original article here: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4115033&page=1

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

 

A short history of positive psychology

How does the science of happiness relate to business owners and supervisors? According to Harvard Magazine, it’s all about creating a positive work environment.

The article cites a study that found happy employees are more productive and take fewer sick days. It also points out that happy employees are more likely to be innovative and come up with new ideas.

So how can you create a positive work environment? The article offers several tips, including:

Make sure employees feel appreciated.  Regularly give feedback on their performance and provide recognition for their work.

Encourage collaboration. Allow employees to work together and share ideas. This helps them feel valued, which leads to a more positive workplace.

Provide clear goals and expectations. Helping employees set realistic goals helps them stay motivated and focused on their work.

Foster trust between management and staff members. Show that you care about  your employees by listening to their ideas and being open to new ways of doing things.

Create a comfortable environment. Make sure employees have the tools, resources and support they need to do their jobs well

 

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Finally, don’t forget about having fun in the workplace! Incorporate activities into the workplace that will help everyone

Encourage collaboration among co-workers.  Working in teams can help foster creativity and build relationships that will make employees feel more connected to the company.

Create a sense of purpose in your work environment.  Communicate the company’s mission and values to employees so that they feel invested in the success of the organisation.

Foster open communication between supervisors and workers. Let them know their opinions matter. By creating a positive work environment, you will be able to reap the rewards of happier and more productive employees.

Provide opportunities for training and development.   Investing in your employees will help them to stay on top of industry trends and become better at what they do. It will also show that you value their contributions and are invested in their success.

If you’re a business owner or supervisor, these are all things you should keep in mind. Creating a happy, productive work environment can be challenging, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Find out more in the original article here: https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2007/01/the-science-of-happiness.html

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

 

What is the negativity bias? by Eleanor Shakiba

This video is part of a positive psychology series. Find out more about positive psychology in Eleanor’s free eBook, the Positive Psychology Toolkit.

Gain greater confidence in your ability to reach goals. Squash your negativity bias so you can build a vibrant organisational culture. The negativity bias is a natural tendency to focus on, remember and ‘learn from’ negative experiences more easily than positive events. In this video, master trainer Eleanor Shakiba explains that it is possible to shift your perspective using a few simple tools from positive psychology. Learn how to replace negativity with hopefulness and optimism.

This video on negativity bias is part of a playlist of positive psychology videos by master trainer, Eleanor Shakiba. If you’re looking for resilience videos or positive thinking videos, subscribe to Eleanor’s channel for regular updates. To book Eleanor to train your team, visit her official site at Think Learn Succeed. To purchase training materials on resilience, learned optimism and employee wellbeing, visit the Think Learn Succeed shop.

 

 

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About the author: Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a specialist in positive psychology. Her passion is teaching talented people to use social and emotional intelligence to excel in business. These skills centre around building positive mindsets, proactive communication habits and purposeful leadership behaviours. Eleanor’s qualifications include degrees and diplomas in Social Anthropology, Positive Psychology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming. She is also the author of the Positive Psychology Toolkit for HR and L&D Practitioners. This is a free resource for trainers and facilitators.

Coaches! Avoid this trap

Her head curled down and shoulders slouched, my new coaching client was a picture of despair. My first instinct was to ask, “What’s wrong?” After all, she looked like she needed sympathy and advice.

I chose to ignore my instinct, knowing it would trap us in a game of clients – coach collusion. Fuelled by the brain’s natural negativity bias, this type of collusion subtly focuses coaching conversations on negatives rather than positives. Ultimately, this makes solution-finding more trying. Great coaches don’t ignore negatives, but they do reframe them.

I base my positive psychology training and coaching methods on those of renowned hypnotherapist Milton Erickson. He was a master of positive reframing and his techniques are useful in resilience training, assertiveness programs and one-to-one coaching. His finely crafted language patterns subtly directed clients’ attention. Instead of asking about the past, Erickson asked about the future. He didn’t ask what was wrong. Instead, he encouraged his clients to picture how things might go right in the future. On the surface, Erickson’s techniques seem simple. The more you use them, though, the more you understand they are highly flexible and engaging tools for positive change.

As a trainer or facilitator with an interest in positive psychology training, how can you use Ericksonian language patterns to overcome the brain’s negativity bias? Here are a few of my favourite techniques, which I cover in my advanced level workshops for trainers, course creators and facilitators.

 

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Open your sessions with neutral questions

Asking what’s wrong subtly focuses attention on problems. Don’t do it! Instead, frame your questions in neutral, ‘clean’ language. Start your coaching sessions by asking, “How are you travelling this week?” Even better, remain silent and let your clients open the conversation.

Temporalise negative feelings

Great coaches don’t ignore negatives. This is particularly true when seeking to empathise with clients. However, really successful coaches know that empathy is different to collusion. When a coach speaks as though a negative emotional state will be ongoing, collusion occurs. The coach sides with the client’s negative expectations.

You can avoid doing this by adding temporal tags to your empathic statements. Despite the complex name, a temporal tag is a simple linguistic device. It is a short phrase which suggests a timeline or endpoint. For example, a savvy coach might empathise by saying, “Things seem bad right now.” The last two words of this empathic statements suggest the emotion is transitory.

Probe for counter evidence and counter examples

The negativity bias has been shown to influence what people remember. Put simply, brains remember negative experiences more clearly than positive experiences. This is why excellent coaches probe full counter examples when their clients raise problematic situations.

Promote self-efficacy

Negativity and learned helplessness tend to go together. They lead to states of overwhelm and pessimism, in which your cochees feel incapable of taking action. Your job is to highlight opportunities for empowered action. Do this by asking questions about steps your coachees can take to solve their problems and overcome challenges.

Mastering the art of positive reframing is an exciting way to boost your impact as a positive psychology practitioner. For more information about simple tools to transform your results, download the Positive Psychology Toolkit for HR and L&D Practitioners.

 

About the author: Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a positive psychology trainer and coach. Her passion is teaching skills for positive thinking, proactive communication and purposeful leadership. Her clients work in academia, education, IT, engineering, finance and health. Eleanor is qualified in Social Anthropology, Positive Psychology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming. She’s the author of the Positive Psychology Toolkit for HR and L&D Practitioners, a free resource for trainers.

Questions that make or break confidence by Eleanor Shakiba

When time are tough the tough get going…but the smart get questioning. In this video, master coach Eleanor Shakiba explains how the questions you ask yourself directly impact your confidence and resilience levels. Drawing on Meta Model questions from NLP, she explains how to overcome ‘learned helplessness’ by making simple changes to your internal dialogue. Watch Questions that Make or Break Confidence now.

 

 

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About the author: Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a specialist in positive psychology. Her passion is teaching talented people to use social and emotional intelligence to excel in business. These skills centre around building positive mindsets, proactive communication habits and purposeful leadership behaviours. Eleanor’s qualifications include degrees and diplomas in Social Anthropology, Positive Psychology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming. She is also the author of the Positive Psychology Toolkit for HR and L&D Practitioners. This is a free resource for trainers and facilitators.