How Positive Emotions Change Who We Are

eazl positive emotions

Accordingly to research from UC Berkeley, 1% of the cells in your body are replaced per day, which means all of your cells change within a quarter or season of a year. It also takes that long to form a new habit.

In addition, our emotions affect our level of cellular change. The more daily positive emotions we have, the more we can change who we are and it can even affect the way our genes are transcribed (for the better).

Positive emotions also help in the areas of:

  • Mindfulness
  • Pain reduction
  • Development of trusting relationships
  • Healthy heart rate
  • Increased resilience in stressful or difficult situations
  • Increased levels of empathy

All of this has implications for career as well due to the fact that we spend the majority of our time working and a successful career is very much based on relationships.

What can we do with this information?
We can make sure that we are “inputting” situations and activities that positively influence our daily happiness level. This is more about what you fill your day with rather than striving for grin-inducing happiness, the search for which can actually impede your search for positivity.

Reflect on activities that make you happy or content and actively insert those activities to your day. For some, it might be taking a scenic walk or getting exercise, for others it might be reading a book or cooking. Spend some time thinking about this.

Some things you might also want to try to add positivity to your day:

  • Being kind to others / helping others
  • Practicing gratitude for things you might be taking for granted
  • Practicing active listening (listening to understand vs. listening to respond)
  • Try one new thing a day, even if it’s something small (like a different route to work or something different for lunch)

Making positive emotions more of a part of your daily experience requires some work and continual reinforcement. You can find a list of additional practices here.

Resources:
(1) UC Berkeley. (n.d.). Module 1: Introduction to the Science of Happiness. In Happiness and Positive Emotions. Retrieved from https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:BerkeleyX+GG101x+3T2017/course/

Staying Focused Despite the Trump Media Chaos

 

Don’t Be a Victim to the Media Chaos
What you put in brain matters and all forms of media (social media, radio, television) are saturated with stories about Trump. Stories that are divisive, that are designed to create culture wars, that pit us against each other.

If you put that stuff in your brain all the time, your brain is going to be shaped by it.

Learn how to actively shape your brain in healthy ways with this guide to neural plasticity that was developed by Eazl’s well-being researcher Ludell Jones and based on emerging brain science from UC Berkeley.

Get it free here and share it with your friends.

While it’s good to be aware of what’s happening in the world don’t be a victim to the news.

More Innovation and Opportunity than Ever
This is a time of tremendous innovation and opportunity. You can learn in amazing new ways from great people on Udemy (and not just Eazl courses!) and learn from some of the smartest people in the world for free using EdX.

Industries everywhere are being disrupted and change is OPPORTUNITY. It’s not just about big-money startups, either.

Glenn Carroll’s research at Stanford shows that well-run small businesses that embrace their authenticity have a distinct and sustainable advantage over tired old big brands using the same old tricks.

See the research at http://stanford.io/2qXewMb.

Some of the people making progress in the Eazl community are:
Matt Banks, a leader in carbon emissions reduction through corporate sustainability. See his interview in What’s Next? Washington DC at http://bit.ly/2fWtcVd

Rodrigo Palma, advancing accessible artificial intelligence by working on the IBM Watson team. Connect with him at http://bit.ly/2gW5cEC

Jessika Jake, a physical product innovator in the workplace wellness space. Check out her business at http://bit.ly/2xTH0bn

Have the Courage to Build Bridges
It is in the interests of selfish oligarchs for us to stay home and stay divided. When we don’t do meaningful things, we consume to fill the void.

COURAGE will lead you to OPPORTUNITY.

In my personal experience, organizing on Chicago’s South Side has shown me that there is power in diversity, that smart, well-intentioned people are building inspiring things in SO MANY places.

I encourage you to find the good in people, to find the good people, and to build bridges.

Have the courage to say “no” to the Trump media chaos. You can take back the control by making small meaningful steps towards solving problems that matter.

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How to Change Your Neural Pathways and Create Better Habits

neural pathways

Think you are who you are and that’s the end of the story? Everyone should accept you for who you are, inhibiting weaknesses included?

If you answered “yes,” you might want to check your assumptions and look into a lil’ thing called neural plasticity.

What is Neural Plasticity?
Neural Plasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. (1)

Essentially, with a bit of conscious effort, you can change your neural pathways and create new habits that are better and healthier for you (and, consequently, those around you) than your old ones.

This goes for anything from diet and exercise to relationships and the way you see the world around you. Think: negative thought tendencies vs. positive thought tendencies. (Those negative thought tendencies can really hold you back!)

You CAN change anything you don’t like about yourself or anything that isn’t serving you and it’s not even that complicated. Anything is possible!

How I Discovered Neuroplasticity
A couple of years ago, I got deep into my yoga practice and really took it to the next level, practicing daily and exploring the science of yoga. When you do something like yoga regularly, you become very aware and connected to both your mental health and your physical health. (2)

In the western world, a lot of our suffering is caused by our disconnection from our well being that is caused by stress, perceived lack of time, and distraction by a whole lot of things that aren’t good for us. Yoga is an effective way to balance things out, in my experience.

If you are someone who is opposed to the idea of yoga, I encourage you to open your mind to this mental, physical, and spiritual practice that I have seen transform many lives for the better. If you’re interested in dipping your toe in, I’d recommend checking out Yoga with Adriene. Get past any ideas you might have about who does yoga and look for what yoga can do for you.

While practicing yoga one day, I had a breakthrough and realized that I had been suppressing some childhood trauma (most of us have some kind of childhood trauma in varying degrees) and it was time to work through it because life wouldn’t get any better until I did.

I began making a lot of positive changes that took a lot of effort at first but eventually became habits that I didn’t need to think about in order to make happen. The first changes led to a cascade of additional improvements in my life because I realized how much control we over our brains.

These changes naturally turned my relationships and career around because happy, healthy people attract others and develop stronger bonds. And I don’t mean a smiling-like-a-fool kind of happy, but a genuine satisfaction for life and interest in the people around you.

I had naturally stumbled upon the wonders of neural plasticity and changed my own pathways without even being aware of the science behind it.  Soon, in my research on the power of the brain and Science of Happiness, I was able to formalize these techniques I’d been thinking about and became even more intrigued.

It had such an impact on my life, that I want to explore it further and make it a big part of my career. You can follow my research project here.

Who Can Benefit from Creating New Neural Pathways?
Taking advantage of neural plasticity is beneficial to just about anyone but especially useful in the following situations:

  • Those who experienced childhood trauma (to any degree) and would like to overcome negative and fearful thinking patterns
  • Those who tend to see the world from a negative perspective /  have a tendency towards negative thought patterns and have seen those habits affect their relationships and career
  • Anyone who has trouble focusing on tasks and completing projects
  • Anyone who is facing obstacles while on the path to achieving their goals
  • Those who feel like they are stuck in a rut and aren’t sure how to make positive changes in their life
  • Anyone who has habits that are harmful to their well being and/or success
  • Those who struggle with happiness

Ways to Create New Neural Pathways
There are a lot of different methods and exercises out there to help you get to work on creating new pathways but the main theme is conscious, repeated effort. Here is a list of practices I’ve collected for different purposes and a general guide on how to create your new habits.

ludell jones neural plasticity

References:
(1) Nelson, C. Neural Plasticity and Human Development. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1999.
(2) Butterfield, N. Yoga and Mental Health. Melbourne: Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, 2016.

From Harvard Business Review: Prevent Burnout by Making Compassion a Habit

prevent burnout

“’I am sick to death of the ridiculous situations I have to deal with at work. The pettiness, the politics, the stupidity — it’s out of control. This kind of thing stresses me out to the max.’

Stress is a happiness killer. And life is just too short to be unhappy at work. But we hear this kind of thing all the time from leaders in industries as varied as financial services, education, pharmaceuticals, and health care. In our coaching and consulting, we’re seeing a spike in the number of leaders who used to love their jobs but now say things like, “I’m not sure it’s worth it anymore.” They’re burned out — emotionally exhausted and cynical, as a result of chronic and acute work stress.

Why is stress on the rise? A lot of it has to do with uncertainty in the world and constant changes in our organizations. Many people are overworking, putting in more hours than ever before. The lines between work and home have blurred or disappeared. Add to that persistent (sometimes even toxic) conflicts with bosses and coworkers that put us on guard and make us irritable. Under these circumstances, our performance and well-being suffer. Work feels like a burden. Burnout is just around the corner. And happiness at work is not even a remote possibility.

Here’s the good news: Some people don’t get burned out. They continue to thrive despite the difficult conditions in their workplace.”

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Productivity: Why You Should Work in Clusters

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In the mid 1970s, two American researchers used people’s reactions to words to discover something that we can all apply to using our brains. Your brain is better when it works in clusters. See the research here.

Better Comprehension
The two researchers found that when they showed people words that had similar meanings people were able to actually read the words more quickly than if the words they were shown had no relation to each other.

The takeaway here is that we will be able to understand something and make connections on some topic if our brains are warmed up to thinking about that topic.

Our brains won’t be as capable if we use them to flip between topics every few seconds. Our brains like to think in patterns.

Better Judgement
The researchers also found that our brains can identify falsehoods better when we think in clusters. For example, if we hear a 5 sentences on the same topic, we’ll easily spot the sentence that is untrue but if we hear 5 sentences that all pertain to different topics, we’re less capable of identifying which sentence is false.

So, try to work in clusters. For example, if you need to create one piece of marketing collateral each week, next time try to create all four pieces of marketing collateral for the month on the same day. You’ll likely feel like it’s faster, easier, and more efficient.

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From HubSpot: Are Notifications Driving Us Crazy?

This shared post is part of our Summer Scale Up series. We’re helping you accomplish more, the smart way!

notifications

“As it turns out, there could be a downside to all of the benefits mobile technology provides. We might be able to work from anywhere on our smartphones or tablets, but such mobility and accessibility come at a cost — and too much technology could actually be making us less productive.

In this post, we’ll explore how notifications impact your brain and your mental and physical health, and what you can do with your devices to help minimize the negative impacts of the little red dot.”

notifications

How to Use Your Brain (According to Neuroscience)

This post is part of our Summer Scale Up series. We’re helping you accomplish more.

What do neuroscientists have to say about how we should use our brains? Let’s dive in!

The OG Power Processor
Currently, the top-of-the line Mac Pro (not a MacBook–Apple’s $4,000 desktop machine) tops out at around 7teraflops per second in processing power. The human brain is estimated to be able to process almost 350x faster–closer to 1 Petaflop per second. Our brains are great at evaluating information. See how the Harvard researcher came up with this estimate.

Storage Problems
Our brains aren’t so good at storing information–especially short-term storage. Researcher George Miller showed that when we have more than 7 items in our short-term memories, our ability to make good decisions drops significantly. See his findings and learn about Miller’s Law.

So what does this mean for you and how you use your brain? First, try to delegate memory and project-management like duties to software. Take pressure off yourself to remember everything you’re working on. Instead, spend your brain power processing information and using logic to find pathways forward. You’ll be much better at that than a machine will be.

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Bandwidth Allocation (Productivity) in Theory and Practice

This free video is part of our Summer Scale Up series. We’re helping you accomplish more with a month of helpful content on scaling yourself in July.

In this video, you’re going to learn about why maximum productivity is important.

This video is an excerpt from the Maximizing Your Personal Productivity section of our Advanced Management Training.

Advanced Management Training is an MBA in a box! You’ll learn hiring, mentorship, communication & persuasion, productivity hacks, negotiation & leadership skills, + more.

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From GOTO: Scott Hanselman on Scaling Yourself

This is a shared video from GOTO as a part of our series, Summer Scale Up. We’re helping you scale yourself and accomplish more. 

Scott Hanselman is the Principal Program Manager at Microsoft in Portland, Oregon.

Created for developers, by developers, GOTO Conferences are focused on bringing the best minds in the software community and the most interesting topics to light.

As information workers, we are asked to absorb even more information than ever before. More blogs, more documentation, more patterns, more layers of abstraction. Now Twitter and Facebook compete with Email and Texts for our attention, keeping us up-to-date on our friends dietary details and movie attendance second-by-second.

Does all this information take a toll on your psyche or sharpen the saw? Is it a matter of finding the right tools and filters to capture what you need, or do you just need to unplug. Is ZEB (zero email bounce) a myth or are there substantive techniques for prioritizing your life on the web?

Come see Scott’s famous “Scaling Yourself” talk, adapted to take only 15 minutes of your time!

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Productivity: MIT’s Research on Being More Productive

This weekly Brain Boost is part of our Summer Scale Up series.

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What do the best researchers in the world have to say about productivity? Funny you ask… we found out! Here’s what a team of 3 MIT economists learned will help you be productive:

Increase Your Betweenness Centrality
Betweenness Centrality is a fancy way of saying that you benefit from being in the middle of many discussions. For example, knowing a little bit about a lot of projects benefits you. It also benefits you to have one foot in many different social groups rather than knowing everyone from one social group. Learn more about betweenness centrality here.

Learn to Use People Databases
People who can use people databases like LinkedIn are much more productive. For example, learning how to use Boolean search techniques to navigate your LinkedIn network is a high-value skill that we teach in our Career Hacking course.

Learn to Signal
The MIT research also shows that learning to digitally signal other people about your work enables you to be much more productive. For example, sending automated emails, chat notifications, or social network updates about your work are digital signals. Three great automated signaling tools are: –
BufferApp
MailButler
Yet Another Mail Merge

Here’s a discounted link to Eazl’s Advanced Management Training Program: http://bit.ly/eazlss15yt

Here’s the original research from MIT’s team.

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