ten tips for positive living

We all experience adversity of one kind or another during various stages of our lives. We make mistakes, we face obstacles and failure, we feel disappointment and we all suffer. Yet with every setback comes some opportunity for growth that we can teach ourselves to see and take advantage of. Shawn Achor, author of 'The Happiness Advantage,' shares his tips for maintaining a positive outlook on life. Incorporate these steps in your life for a happier, more positive you!

10 Tips for Positive Living:

1. Write Me, Maybe
When you open your inbox for the first time each day, take two minutes to send an email to someone in your social support network (family member, friend, teacher, coach, coworker) praising him/her or thanking that person. By saying hello to those you care about, you significantly increase your social support system, which has been shown to correlate greatly with one's happiness. Social support is as predictive of how long you live as obesity, high blood pressure and smoking.

2. Double Up
Write down every detail you can remember about one positive experience that has occurred over the past 24 hours, but only write for 2 minutes. As our brains can't tell much difference between visualization and actual experience, by rehashing a high point in the day, you just doubled the effect of this positive experience. Overall, this leads to greater life satisfaction and meaning. Studies have shown that women who wrote about positive experiences were 40 percent more likely to live to age 94 than their negative peers.

3. Be Grateful
Think of three things you are grateful for before you go to sleep for 21 days. We did a study on this, and at the end of the study, participants were significantly more optimistic, and further the change wasn't temporary – the positive mindset lasted even six months later. An added effect: increasing your optimism can improve your productive energy by 31 percent! As a part of Everyday Matters participants are embodying this tip by keeping journals of their experiences on the website. Readers are invited to comment, and offer words of encouragement and gratitude.

4. Flash Those Pearly Whites
Through a study involving 11,000 hospital employees over six months, it was found that smiling, making eye contact and simply saying hello within ten feet of another person increased the hospital's patient satisfaction, the doctors' job satisfaction, and the likelihood to refer the hospital others. This is because of the way neurons function in our body, lighting up at the receipt of a friendly gesture, telling our brains to smile when someone smiles at us, spreading the joy all around.

5. Start Small
In order to train the young Zorro, a sword master made him fight in a small 1 foot circle. Once he could do that successfully, then could he expand the circle to fight 20 men. If you feel overwhelmed, draw a metaphorical circle (in your inbox, on your desk, or on your calendar) around a task that you know you can be successful in and in a short period of time. If you want to learn to play the guitar, start by trying to learn one song really well. Once your brain sees an initial success, it creates a "cascade of success" allowing your circle of power to expand exponentially.

6. Sweat the Small Stuff (sometimes)
Research indicates that stress, even at high levels, isn't always bad. Stress can cause the human brain to use more of its capabilities, improve memory and intelligence, increase productivity, form deeper relationships, new positive perspectives, a greater appreciation for life, and a heightened sense of meaning.

7. Get a Good Night's Sleep
Studies have shown that if you sleep 7-8 hours a night after memorizing words, you remember most of the positive and negative words the next day. If you are sleep deprived, you remember most of the negative words the next day, but only a few of the positive. Therefore, reality seems to become more positive if you get an adequate night's rest.

8. Change Your Formula
Most people follow a flawed formula for success believing if you work harder now, then you'll be successful, and THEN you can be happy. That formula is scientifically backwards. If you reverse the formula however, you can be happier AND successful at the same time. By finding ways to do something positive or meaningful, your success rates rise and you can work harder and more intelligently. Research shows every single business outcome improves if you are positive while you work, instead of waiting to be happy at the end.

9. Focus on Fun
By adding 15 minutes of a fun, mindful activity to your day, like gardening, going on a walk or working out, your brain learns to believe that behaviors matter – the core of optimism. In fact, researchers have found that taking a small amount of time to enjoy life each day has the same effects as taking an antidepressant in managing happiness.

10. Just Breathe
Take two minutes each day to stop what you're doing, and watch your breath go in and out. This exercise trains your brain to do one thing at a time. Research suggests that a multi-tasking brain has a harder time falling asleep, is more stressed and has lower energy. By taking time to relax the brain has a chance to undo the negative effects of trying to manage everything at once.