“Writing a gratitude note doesn’t have to be complicated, literally three lines, It reminds your brain of all the critical people that have really invested in your happiness over the course of your lifetime. And it also reminds your brain of all the social support you have, which helps make the adoption and sustainability of this habit as easy on you as possible. So first thing in the morning, when you open your email, instead of looking at the emails in your inbox first, start by composing a gratitude note.”
These are the words of Michelle Gielan who has spent the past decade researching the link between happiness and success. Two-minute habits can retrain your brain to help you get the benefits of positive thinking, she says.
This bestselling author is delivering a keynote at IMEX America – “The optimism quotient: changing our mindset, fueling success” – and says that people who feel optimistic are more resilient and more productive at work and in their personal lives.
“There’s a very compelling body of research that shows that small changes to our mindset can have an incredible ripple effect on every aspect of our lives. We feel better. We make more money. We’re healthier, we’re more connected to the people around us, and our well-being improves as well. At her MPI keynote speech, Gielan will cite some of those research findings, share stories, and lead the audience in interactive exercises so that they can learn to inoculate their brains against common stresses, negative people, and toxicity at work.
Gielan has a special affinity for meeting planners. “Meeting planners are dedicated to creating events that bring out the best in everyone else,” and that’s what she sees as her mission, too. “The reason I love this research is that it’s able to quantify something that we haven’t been able to measure until the last decade or so. If we work on improving our levels of optimism, if we focus on creating deeper social connections with the people in our lives – we can now track the impact of optimism on our own lives as well as the ripple effect on the people around us.”
Gielan’s practical, research-based positive communication strategies, or tools, are designed to increase happiness and success and are honed from her consulting work with Fortune 100 companies, schools and other organizations. People often think transformation requires big changes but Gielan’s strategies and tools “are small two-minute habits that will allow attendees to train their brain power for optimism and resilience.”
Find the Positive in Your Day
In our daily lives, many of us get overwhelmed by negativity – a flat tire on the way to work, technology that fails during a crucial meeting, items that get shipped on time but arrive late, etc. So then we complain and define our day by the negative incident.
According to Gielan, it’s important to find the positive. Instead of focusing on what made our day tense, we should look for facts about our work and experience that empower us. Something went wrong but we know how to deal with missing packages or meeting deadlines – we’ve met this type of adversity before. “When we get our brain to start focusing on the resources, skills, successes, positive behaviors and meaningful relationships (both at work and away from the office), we start to navigate a way out of the problem, to fuel us and help us move forward in a productive way.”
Gratitude Notes Can “Broadcast Happiness”
One of Gielan’s suggestions: write a two-minute email praising or thanking somebody – someone new and different each day. The gratitude notes are worthwhile not just because they help the person writing them to remember to be happy. They are important because the notes enable us to “broadcast happiness,” making rational optimism contagious by strengthening relationships through acknowledging the recipients. The notes make the people receiving them happy. That’s important because “social support is the greatest predictor of happiness,” she says.
After making the two-minute notes a part of their routine, “people don’t say, “Oh, no, I have to do that.’ Instead, they say, “I get to do that,” Gielan adds. The stories we tell ourselves are important, she believes, and the notes help remind us of positive incidents that happened to us. This is important away from the office, too. Instead of starting conversations with your spouse, partner, kids or friends with the complaints and problems you experienced during the day, Gielan suggests starting “by telling them something cool that you learned or some good thing that happened. It works on someone else as well. Try asking them “what’s the best thing that happened to you today?” As their brain starts scanning for that, it changes the way they look at their life. The more we all practice scanning for the positive, the better our brain gets at seeing the parts of our lives that make us happy.”
Michelle Gielan delivers her keynote, “The optimism quotient: changing our mindset, fueling success” at IMEX America on Wednesday, September 11, 8:30 – 9:30 am. More details here.
IMEX America takes place September 10 – 12, 2019 at the Sands® Expo and Convention Center at The Venetian®| The Palazzo® in Las Vegas, preceded by Smart Monday, powered by MPI, on September 9.
eTN is a media partner for IMEX America.