21 days of happiness

5 years ago, around this time, I was finishing my university studies. The goal was clear – finalize my Master’s diploma thesis and spend a month studying for my final exams. I was not satisfied with the progress, had low levels of energy and my default setting was grumpy and easily irritated. As I couldn’t focus at home I spent my days in a computer study room where you couldn’t tell if it’s day or night and I was surrounded by dozens of frowning “zombies”.

One day, as I snapped at a friend sitting next to me because he was laughing, he looked back at me and said “I don’t recognize you anymore, you have always been so much fun, but lately?! You keep on complaining how slowly you progress, you don’t even smile anymore and now you tell me to shut up because I laughed at a funny video? Give me a break!” I got offended, stood up and went to a different room thinking that he was a complete jerk as he was not getting how seriously I was taking my studies. Later that day he emailed me a video saying “I think you should watch this, it might help you”.

So I did and I laughed and it got me thinking – am I doing it wrong? How come I can’t see anything positive around me? Is this why my brain isn’t absorbing the information at the rate it used to?

If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present,then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. (Shawn Anchor in his TED talk)

I forwarded the video to another friend from my class and asked her “Do you think this positive psychology stuff might work?” She loved the video too and suggested that we take the experiment together – an email chain of 3 positive things per day. We then invited another classmate/friend to the conversation.

This morning, 5 years later, when I was putting the information together for this blog post I took the time to read through our messages. 21 days stretched to almost 5 months and during this time all of us successfully graduated, I enjoyed vacation in my beloved Mallorca, went through an interview process of becoming Emirates cabin crew member, moved to Toulouse (France) to work as a waitress during summer and bought tickets to Indonesia where I traveled in November-December 2013.

I honestly think that if I haven’t managed to reverse the formula none of this would have happened. I might have graduated anyway but I would probably miss out on all of these adventures.

Big thanks goes to Shawn Anchor for his work and dedication, to my dear friend Fibo for sending me the video and pulling me out of my grumpiness and to my “happy partners” Petra & Natalie for sharing their moments with me. A heartfelt appreciation belongs to Petra who has always been there for me ♥

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