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Batman and the Saber-toothed tiger

I’m proud to be part of the ‘BRILLIANT’ team. My mission – should I choose to accept it – is to deliver ‘The Art of Being Brilliant’ across America.

I’ve not been this excited since I was seven. As a little boy, I would ride my bicycle all over the neighborhood wearing a sheet tucked into the back of my t-shirt’s collar. The sheet flowed behind me like a superhero’s cape as I cruised the neighborhood. I was Batman and I searched for citizens to save but, on one particular day, I was the one who needed saving.

The scariest dog in the world was chained to a tree in his backyard a few doors down from my home. As I drove by that day, the dog escaped his confinement and started chasing the cape which flowed behind me. I was no longer Batman in the Batmobile. I was just a pudgy 7-year-old pedaling my bike as fast as I could to escape this growling beast. I was saved by my grandmother who appeared out of our backyard wielding a broomstick to chase the dog away. Thanks, Yiayia!

I spent the rest of that summer making sure I knew where that dog was at all times.

While I was fleeing from that dog, I imagine I felt like one of my distant ancestors running to escape a hungry saber-toothed tiger 300,000 years ago. Back then, your life depended on whether you could identify threats in the environment before they ate you. As a result, our brains evolved with a negativity bias that makes humans pay more attention to negative events and signs of danger in our environment. We are literally tuned to seek the negative aspects in most situations.

The world has moved on. Sabre tooth tigers have all but vanished (in Boston, at least), but our brain’s evolutionary programming lives on. We might not be running from saber-toothed tigers or junkyard dogs, but we are wired to notice the and react to negative events more so than positive events in our daily lives. The trick to raising your inner level of happiness is your ability to notice the positives more often. The 2%ers have figured this out so here are 3 top tips that will help re-focus your attention away from negativity and towards the good stuff:

1) Group Gratitude: Create a group message with your immediate family or a few close friends. Each day, at a specified time, each person on the group message must send a list of two or three things for which they are grateful to the rest of the members of the group. You cannot repeat any item on another day. The group will hold every member accountable for coming up with their gratitude list every day regardless of how small the individual items may be.

2) Grat Streak: If you use Snapchat, you’re probably familiar with Snapchat “streaks.” These “streaks” are the number of days of uninterrupted Snapchat messages shared between two friends. Some Snapchat streaks have lasted two years or more. Start a “Grat Streak” where you exchange a positive comment or message with your Snapchat streak buddy every day. See how many months or years you can make the streak last.

3) One Second Everyday: For the past two years, I’ve capture one second of video each day. I use an app called 1SE (Once Second Everyday) to splice these ultra-short videos into a 6-minute “documentary” of my past year. I try to capture the most memorable or positive experience of the day for this mashup video. The result is I am always seeking the positive moments in my day.

Try one or more of these exercises over the next few weeks. If you can stick with these daily rituals long enough, your level of happiness will rise along with your optimism. Your relationships with family and co-worker will also improve as your brain begins seeking the good versus the bad in people.

Look folks, I’m just a simple guy from the USA. If I can do it, you can as well.

Meantime, USA, here I am! If you want wellbeing and happiness embedded in your business, school or university, I’m your man.

Pouli x

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