Tag Archives: The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

How full is your bucket?

How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton

How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton

Today I’m participating in the WordPress weekly photo challenge on “curves”Hop on over to my nature photography website to view my photo contributions.

I’m not doing a WWW Wednesdays update this week because I’m still reading Running Blind by Lee Child. Instead I wanted to share a book I read about positive thinking recently. It’s a very short read and it’s full of interesting research data and useful ideas you can easily implement  and use on a daily basis. The book is called How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton (who was Tom’s grandfather and passed away before the book was published).

Positive thinking can have powerful effects on our minds and bodies, yet so many people walk around with a negative mindset. How Full Is Your Bucket shares plenty of data to explain how detrimental negativity can be to our own selves, but also to the people around us when we are negative (and vice versa). Did you know a positive environment will make you more productive? It sounds logical, yet many people and companies don’t do much to improve positive thoughts.

How full is your bucket - a positive mindset increases productivity

How full is your bucket – a positive mindset increases productivity

Now, when it comes to the bucket filling principle, it’s as easy as pie. Imagine you walk around the whole day with an invisible bucket over your head. Everytime something good happens to you, a few drops go into your bucket. With every negative emotion you feel, a few drops come out. The key is to walk around with your bucket as full as possible.

But wait, it gets better! Did you know that every time you do something positive for someone else, you not only put a few drops in their bucket but you also deposit drops in yours? That’s the power of a positive attitude. On the other hand, you can drain drops from your bucket and other people’s buckets when you are being negative, so nip those negative attitudes in the bud!

The principle of filling your bucket

The principle of filling your bucket

How Full Is Your Bucket For Kids by Tom Rath

How Full Is Your Bucket For Kids by Tom Rath

How simple is this concept to understand and implement? Very simple, and everyone can do it. The authors give you a lot of practical exercises to help you focus on the positive.  I also read How Full Is Your Bucket For Kids by Tom Rath with my own kids a few weeks ago. At first, they were puzzled by the bucket over the head idea, but once they understood the concept, they embraced it. We use the bucket filling principle on a regular basis, especially when the mood tends to be tense. I ask my boys about their bucket and how full or empty it is, and then we discuss what we can do to fill it up. Not only it helps them find a solution to their temporary problem, but it also quickly distracts them for staying in the negative. And it makes them feel more empathetic towards other people, as they understand they can drain someone’s bucket with their own actions. Pretty powerful stuff, especially for little ones who are still learning what empathy is.

The end of the book summarizes the five strategies you need to follow to encourage positive thinking in yourself and the people around you. Make sure you reverse the golden rule by treating others as THEY would like to be treated, not the way you like to be treated. It makes a lot more sense that way, since not everyone likes to be treated the same.

The five strategies about filling your bucket

The five strategies about filling your bucket

I also recommend is The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, which focuses on positive psychology (you can read my review of The Happiness Advantage here). The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven is another short, easy to read and understand book on the power of positive thinking. You can read my full review of The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People here.

Have you read books on positive thinking or happiness that left a positive (pun intended!) impression on you?

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The pursuit of happiness

happy faceThis past week, I’ve read two completely different books on the subject of happiness. I was going to wait for my WWW Wednesdays update to post my reviews. Then I thought they deserved a post of their own, so I can rather your feedback, especially if you’re read one or both books.

A few months ago, I read a wonderful book called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, which focused on positive psychology (you can read my review of The Happiness Advantage here). I found the subject fascinating: how cool is it that you train / retrain your brain to think in a more positive mindset? Ah, the power of the mind…

I recently shared how I’m going to focus on the positive in 2013, so I thought reading a few books on happiness would be a good start. Well, I had completely opposite experiences reading the two books below. Because I’m focusing on the positive, I’ll start with my bad experience and finish with the better one. Happy thoughts!  :-)

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
How this book became a New York Times bestseller is beyond me. There have to be millions of very unhappy people who thought this book would turn their lives around, so they rushed to buy it. The Happiness Project is disappointing in so many ways, I can’t describe all of them. Or worse, it would make me unhappy.

After reading The Happiness Project  (well, technically I browsed the rest of the book after reading the first 100 pages – I figured I wasted enough time already), I understand why Gretchen Rubin was so unhappy with her life. It seems she has NO clue how to enjoy it. And what a life it is, one I can’t even relate to. Doesn’t she have it all: the ritzy apartment in NYC, the super rich, super nice husband (his family has hundreds of millions of dollars), her part-time job as a writer, her housekeeper, her nanny, her personal trainer, her big wallet…

After reading about her life for the first 100 pages, I couldn’t figure out why she was complaining about being so unhappy. And yes, she complained, and whined, and nagged (mostly her husband, poor guy). Then it dawned on me: she appears as a rigid, ungrateful, controlling grouch. At least she’s honest in her self-evaluation, but it’s a little disturbing. She clearly LOVES making check lists, about everything, and it’s the only way she’s figured out to include happiness in her daily routine. How pathetic is that?
– Remember to smile at one person. Checked!
– Sing a happy song. Checked!
– Laugh out loud. Checked!

Seriously? Is it how we should live life in order to enjoy it? Er, I’m not signing up for that program!

Well, I’ll admit it, I did laugh out loud reading this book. Especially when she described that reorganizing her closets made her happy. Wow, more organized and cleansed, maybe. Happy? She’s stretching it. The poor woman doesn’t know how to have fun, how sad.

Oh, are you ready for this one? Gretchen Rubin tried to keep a gratitude book, where she would write down a few things she was grateful for every day. She didn’t last two weeks because it “annoyed” her! She didn’t like “forcing” herself to find things to write down so often. I think it may have more to do with the fact that she can’t grasp what gratitude really is. I keep a gratitude notebook and even on my worst days, I still find things to be grateful for, including “I’m grateful this day is finally over and I get to start fresh tomorrow!”  :-)

And the list goes on. She decided she wouldn’t read books that included “unjust accusation”, including To Kill A Mockingbird. Seriously? Did you know Gretchen Rubin is a lawyer? Now, that’s disturbing.

The most laughable part? When she realized that “money CAN buy happiness”. Well, not s^%t, if you’re stinking rich like her. Ha! What a joke.

She “forced” herself through so many new experiences that were very unpleasant to her. Laughing out loud was one of them. She didn’t want to watch funny TV shows because she didn’t want to feel “obligated” to laugh. Obviously she’s never watched Modern Family. But then again, she probably wouldn’t find the show funny. I bet what made her the happiest was to create all those check lists, along with her happiness chart, and her happiness project toolbox. You can download it all on her website. Woohoo! Ugh, no thanks.

This book is such a downer, I think reading any other book will make you happy, including the one below. If you really liked The Happiness Project, I want to hear about it. Really, tell me.

The 100 simple secrets of happy people by David Niven

The 100 simple secrets of happy people by David Niven

The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven
This little book is great! It’s full of happy thoughts and ideas. Each happiness “secret” starts with a basic statement, with a short explanation below. Then follows a real-life story as an example. Finally a short paragraph explains the research, includes statistics and references. The secrets of happy people cover a lot of areas, including friendship, health, career, free time, leisure:
– Turn off the TV (one of my favorite)
– Money doesn’t buy happiness (thank you for being right on this one, unlike Gretchen Rubin!)
– You always have a choice (I love it!)
– Accomplish something every day
– Be  your own fan
– Say “so what”
– Have a purpose

Here’s an example of one of the secrets, Enjoy the ordinary:

100 simple secrets of happy people - example

100 simple secrets of happy people – example

One item I didn’t see on the list is “Stay away from negative / unhappy people”, but I truly believe in it. Those people can suck the happiness out of you faster than Harry Potter’s dementors. Wait, J.K Rowling was right, there ARE real dementors walking this earth. Fortunately I’ve trained myself to smell them a mile away and I flee them like the plague.

The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People is a very simple book, very hands-on. It serves as a great reminder of how happy life can be if you make simple changes that affect your perspective, thoughts and actions.  I recommend this quick read for anyone interested in finding new sources of happiness, or someone feeling stuck in a rut.

Have you read great books on happiness? What are some of your favorite? Do you consider yourself a happy person, or would you like to be happier but are not sure how?

WWW Wednesdays – May 9, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

My bookshelf

The invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick– What I’m currently reading
I’ll be starting The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick tonight. The movie Hugo is based on this book. It’s over 500 pages long but I think half the pages are illustrations so this should be a fast read. I’ll want to find out if my five-year old would be interested in this story (recommendations say age 9+).
 
– What I recently finished reading

Two Truths and A Lie by Sara Shepard, the third book in The Lying Game series. I just finished this book last night. There are so many twists and turns! The previous suspects seem to be exonerated now, and previously exonerated suspects are now back on the list. Can Emma trust anyone in Sutton’s world and will Sutton’s murderer ever be brought to justice? This has to be one of the best murder mystery/thriller series I’ve read in a long time and I can’t wait to read the next one. Hopefully my nails will regrow a bit by then.
 
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. Shawn Achor’s writing style is very entertaining and helps get the point across when it comes to the benefits of positive psychology. He describes the seven principles we can follow, both at work and in our daily lives, to retrain our brains and think more positively. I enjoyed some of the exercises he suggests to create a more positive and optimistic mindset. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about positive psychology, and even to people who want to figure out why so many individuals walk around with a dark cloud over their heads all the time.
 
 – What I think I’ll read next
I have a few books on my bookshelf but I need to check which one will need to go back to the library first before I start reading.
 
My kids’ bookshelf

What they’re currently reading
Just one bite by Lola SchaeferJust One Bite: 11 Animals and Their Bites at Life Size by Lola Schaefer. This super interesting and beautifully illustrated book shows what 11 animals eat and how much they eat in a single bite. Watch out for the last spread, where a sperm whale sucks in a giant squid in one single bite! And everything in the book is up to scale, yikes!
Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens (a Caldecott Honor book). Hare lost his land in a bet with the tortoise and his family is going hunry. But he manages to turn his bad luck around by striking a deal with the land-rich but lazy bear down the road. He will share everything he grows on the bear’s land. Well at least the top or bottom parts… My kids LOVED how smart the hare is, and how the story ends well for everyone.

What they recently finished reading
Ali, Child of the Desert by Jonathan London. On a trip to the Moroccan market town of Rissani, Ali becomes separated from his father during a sandstorm in the Sahara desert. Rescued by a very kind and selfless goatherd and his grandson, Ali needs to decide if he will leave with the goatherd for more fertile lands, or stay until he finds his father, facing possible death. A wonderful, WONDERFUL book about courage, resourcefulness and kindness. Every kid should read this beautiful story.
Bus Ride Bully by Lori Mortensen. Gavin hates riding the bus because Max, the bus bully, is always picking on him. But when Max is gone for a few days, Gavin starts to worry and decides to pay him a visit. That’s when Gavin discovers quite a different Max. A great book on bullying.

– What I think they’ll read next
My request list is getting shorter at the library so I need to order more books, but so far, I’m not sure about the themes to search by.

What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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WWW Wednesdays – May 2, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

My bookshelf

The happiness advantage by Shawn Achor– What I’m currently reading
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. The book is very interesting so far, pulling data from various studies and Achor’s own observations of human behavior. I’ll have a more complete review after I finish the book.
 
– What I recently finished reading
Michael Scott’s The Warlock (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel). The last book of the series is coming out in the next few weeks and I can’t wait to see how it all ends!
 
– What I think I’ll read next
 Two Truths and A Lie by Sara Shepard, the third book in The Lying Game series. Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to read what happens in this one, even though I know I’ll probably anxiously bite my nails and lose a few hours of sleep staying up to read it.
 
My kids’ bookshelf

Captain Flinn and the pirate dinosaurs by Giles AndreaeWhat they’re currently reading
Captain Flinn and the pirate dinosaurs by Giles Andreae. This book is PERFECT! Where else can you find not only pirates AND dinosaurs, but pirate dinosaurs? Add a battle on the seas and swordfights and you end up with delighted children.
Purr-fect Pete by Samantha Hay. Pete is the new acro-cat addition to the circus team. He’s very little, doesn’t eat fish and smells like stinky cheese, but he’s the best on the team. Is Purr-fect Pete keeping a secret? My kids LOVED the surprising twist.
Are you going to be good? by Cari Best. Robert is attending his first night party to celebrate Great-Gran Sadie’s 100th birthday, and his parents request him to use his best manners. Things don’t go as planned, but Robert is the one who ends up entertaining the guest of honor best.

What they recently finished reading
Badness for beginners : a Little Wolf and Smellybreff Adventure by Ian Whybrow. Little Wolf and his brother Smellybreff get a lesson in badness from Mom and Dad, and Little Wolf is having a hard time being bad…
What’s the time, Little Wolf? by Ian Whybrow. Little Wolf and his brother play a naughty trick on a few rabbits in their quest for dinner. We loved the shocking ending (stuffed rabbits for dinner, anyone?), as it shows life as it is, at least for a family of hungry wolves.
If A Chicken Stayed For Supper by Carrie Weston. Five little foxes promise their mother not to leave the den when she goes out hunting for a chicken for supper. Unable to resist going outside to play in the dark, they meet a chicken who will lead them safely back home. Oops, what will they do with the chicken who just helped them out?

– What I think they’ll read next
I have no idea, but I’m sure it will be lots of fun books!

What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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