One of my favourite things to do as a professor is to stay after class and talk to students. They look at the world in a very unique way. Motivating me to think about psychology at a whole different level.
Especially when it comes to FOMO and happiness:
FOMO is an acronym for fear of missing out, which is a feeling of anxiety that manifests itself in various ways, from a brief pang of envy to more intense feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy. Source: Macmillan Dictionary
In the video below I share the insightful questions my psychology students asked about social comparison and happiness today. Each question underscoring the famous quote:
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Happiness, FOMO, and Social Comparison
FOMO and “measuring happiness” against each other’s’s lowlight reel (difficult times) and highlight reel (celebratory times) was also an active discussion on social media
The word motivation stems from the Latin word “movere” which means to move. Which is why MOMENTUM is such a powerful force when it comes to motivation. Motivation doesn’t happen before the creative act — it happens during.
Small steps. Day by day. Week by week. Moving you forward. Closer to your dreams. Just show up.
Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.
When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.
It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.
This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we did not want to do.
Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.
Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.
Your time. Your life.
To this day I set a timer on the stove.
A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.
The timer principle can also be applied to how often we are negative vs. positive throughout the course of a day.
Negativity is the easy (automatic) route. So we need to be conscious of where our mind flows.
Venting feels good in the moment, but when it goes on too long, the costs outweigh the benefits.
Joy needs room to breathe.
Too often we complain about stressors for hours beyond the momentary challenge has passed. Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and gratitude.
Then one day we wake up and realize that life is too short to be all negative, all the time. Even (especially) when life gets tough.
Balance is key.
Negativity is to be expected. It’s part of the human experience.
The question is – how long will you stay there.
Share your challenges. Share your obstacles. Share your difficulties.
“Go 24 hours without complaining and watch your life start changing.”
The next time you’re tempted to complain about the same thing over and over again, direct that same frustrated energy into your highest, loftiest goals. Consciously swap one complaint for one baby step towards your dreams. Same energy required. Magically different results.
Have you ever wondered how your best friend lives so freely “moment-to-moment” while your mind is imprisoned by thoughts of past events and/or planning of future events (so neatly) written in your (overly structured) daytimer?
Brain Hemispheric Specialization provides insight into why some of us are more present focused and able to “go with the flow” (Right Brain dominant); while others are busy planning their days with the step-by-step precision of a NASA engineer (Left Brain dominant).
Your Brain and Behaviour
Despite being identical in structure, the two halves of the brain specialize in how they process information (e.g., Past vs. Present), and how they function (e.g., Verbal vs. Nonverbal).
Time Processing: Past vs. Present
Left hemisphere – processes information sequentially, one bit at a time
Right hemisphere – processes information globally, considering it as a whole
Brain Functions: Linguistic vs. Spatial
Left hemisphere – includes verbal tasks, such as speaking, reading, thinking, and reasoning.
Right hemisphere – includes nonverbal areas such as the understanding of spatial relationships, recognition of patterns and drawings, music, and emotional expression,
Personally, I obtained a score of 10 on this test – indicating that I am equally Left and Right Brained.
Which didn’t surprise me as I often “lay the table” with outlines, organizers, etc. (Left Brain) and the moment I feel safe, grounded, and prepared, I sit back and watch the ideas fly! (Right Brain)
What about you? How did you score on the Left/Right Brain Dominance Test? Was it what you expected? Were the results consistent with how you live your life? Did you learn something new about yourself?
2. Watch the following 20 minute video to: a) learn firsthand about L-R brain specialization and b) discover how Neuroscientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor turned her real-life tragedy into an awe inspiring “Stroke of Insight“. I am still moved to tears by her story! I hope you are too. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is resilience personified.
The more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemisphere, the more peaceful our planet will be.
TEDx Speaker Jill Bolte Taylor
This post is a summary of this week’s psychology lecture and Chapter 2 of my psychology textbook.
Choice is a powerful tool when it comes to stress perception. What we give attention to grows.
Which is why we must make the conscious decision to talk about our blessings more than our challenges. Our strengths more than our stressors. Our excitement more than our fears. Our possibilities more than our problems.
Every day is a new day filled with abundant opportunities.
Have you ever wondered why some people remain upbeat and positive despite the chaos that surrounds them while others are utterly miserable even in good times? What explains the difference between these two groups of individuals?
Are happy people just lucky people born happy? And unhappy people born miserable? Or is happiness a choice we make day by day, moment to moment?
The answer to this question is twofold. On one hand, 50% of happiness is predetermined by biology (e.g., inborn temperament) while the remaining 50% is influenced by life circumstances and intentional activities.
The Happiness Formula
As shown above, research indicates that approximately 40% of happiness is intentional activities (e.g., daily exercise, meditation, forgiveness), 10% is life circumstances (e.g., income), and 50% is genetic (e.g., temperament),
Though we may have little control over genetics and/or life circumstances — we do have personal agency when it comes to intentional activities. Be it a walk around the block, gardening in the backyard, or simply relaxing by the fire.
My Personal Experience
Being an optimist (and a positive psychologist), I tend to focus on the parts of life where I have influence. For both myself, and the people around me.
Even though you might not be the happiest (or healthiest, or richest, or most zen) person in the room, you (like me) have room (potential) to grow and expand – no matter your life circumstances or genetic make up.
Special note: I take medical conditions such as clinical depression and anxiety into account when discussing “Is Happiness a Choice?” in my webcast. I underscore that intentional activities such as meditation, exercise, and proper nutrition will not cure mental illness, though they will help tremendously.
For example, medical research has demonstrated that exercise (an intentional activity) improves mood in individuals with anxiety and depression. And in turn, enhances personal agency and locus of control ⇐ the number one (environmental) contributor to happiness.
The Happiness Choice
Celebrate your one-of-a-kind happiness. Do not compare it to your brother or your sister, or to a neighbour or a (facebook) friend. FOMO is the “thief of joy”. For what determines your happiness is unique to you to you, and only you.