The Habit Society

⚡️ Tetris Dreamin’

To: Society Members

Good Morning!

This week, we continue on the happiness train with the help of Shawn Achor. ICYMIMonday, we dove into why being happy gives you a competitive edge. Today, we’ll see how to cultivate that happiness advantage.

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Tetris Dreamin’

Tetris, the annoyingly addictive game you always just need “one more round” of. It’s so psychologically addicting that mundane grocery store runs become a game of, “How do I get these boxes to fit together better?” After playing enough rounds, people literally start to see Tetris everywhere they go. Their brains get stuck in a shape-filled world.

Well, the same can happen with a brain addicted to positivity or negativity. Some people walk into a room and see everything good about it, while others walk into the same room, only to find 1000 things to complain about. You’ve probably come to this conclusion on your own, but, the latter situation isn’t the ideal one. This is called the Negative Tetris Effect: being stuck in a cognitive pattern where we selectively perceive the negative.

Dreaming about Tetris

We all have friends that are prime examples of the Negative Tetris Effect (we’re not totally innocent either). Luckily, we can turn this perceptive scanning into a really beneficial trait and start to scan for the good instead. AKA, foster the Positive Tetris Effect.

1%, that’s it…We only remember 1% of everything we experience in a day. With the constant influx of information, we should all train to selectively perceive the good. Better use that 1% wisely, huh?

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Scannin’ n Scribin’

So… How?

It starts with becoming aware of it. Similar to meditation, it’s the practice of noticing when these negative perceptions arise.

Achor recommends making a daily list of good things that happened to you. Couldn’t sound fluffier, right? Science disagrees. This trains your brain to scan for positivity and helps your brain notice it. It’s the same logic as keeping a gratitude journal. It’s human nature to put more weight on the negative aspects of life than the positive ones (it’s this little thing called negativity bias), so physically writing out the good things you experience will bring more attention to them, and you’ll come to realize that there are more positives than you think.

Like we said earlier, our brains can only store so much information at once so, if you occupy your mind with pleasant thoughts, you literally won’t have space to think about your roommate’s annoying chewing. Hack!

Writing down some positives from your day really works and really lasts. After practicing this for just one week, a study found that people were less depressed at the 1-, 3-, and 6-month follow-ups. People got so used to scanning the world for good that they continued to do it even after stopping the exercise. It doesn’t need to be anything grandiose. As they say, it’s the little things that count: the weather being nice, catching up with a friend, or having your favourite meal for dinner. Alternatively, there’s also evidence to back up that writing for 20 minutes, 3x/week about a positive experience can help us too.

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Write three good things every day. To make a habit of it,

1. Pick a time every day when you’ll write.

2. Have your environment set up (notebook, pen…)

3. Set up a cue to remind you (alarm, post-dinner…)

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Society, gather ’round! As a quick reminder, our Spotlight segment is to highlight the most important part of all this, you guys and your progress.

Today, the spotlight is on Samantha Stermer: a gung ho habit-er who honestly puts us all to shame. Just take a look at her morning routine…

After being in a school break rut and getting the news of the 8pm curfew in Quebec, she decided it was time to take matters into her own hands.

While Sam told us her story, she explained how her morning internal debate quickly went from “Do I run today?” to “Which direction am I going in?” That speaks 1000 words…

Sam also gave us a great podcast recommendation that you should all check out too, called “Happiness Lessons of the Ancients: Plato on The Happiness Lab. You’ll be amazed at how old the idea of “setting up your environment for success” really is. (Spoiler Alert: we didn’t come up with it).

And yes, you’re seeing that right, it does say 5:30.

Morning routine

If any of you other THS members have a routine you want to share, send it over here.

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Science has shown that seeking out the positive has too many tangible advantages to be dismissed as mere cockeyed optimism or wishful thinking.

– Shawn Achor

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Scan your environment for some friends that would benefit from THS. Share your unique referral link below with friends.

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Bye
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