Letter From the CEO: Ditch the Resolution and Find Happiness

How many people do you think are committing themselves to a New Year’s resolutions?

I personally don’t believe in resolutions, because through my own experiences I’ve realized one thing:

Resolutions don’t work for everyone.

To me, they’re just psychological “commitment devices” that force you to punish yourself and feel bad for not achieving a goal. Resolutions ultimately make you feel out of control and stressed. I look at life by changing my overall mentality on happiness and being comfortable with change, rather than feeling forced to accomplish something.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been researching the world’s leading professionals’ talks on the subject of happiness. Through various TED talks, I’ve picked five talks that completely changed my view – giving me a different outlook on not only the New Year, but also life in general.

1) Change how you see happiness.

Shawn Achor – “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance.”

In psychologist Shawn Achor’s talk, he describes how changing your view of the world can affect your ultimate happiness. He explains how, despite people who may have everything they ever wanted, they are ultimately unhappy. It’s a truly inspiring talk with a great five-step program to help you change your outlook.

Here’s the five-step program:

  1. Write down three things you’re thankful for each day.
  2. Journal: Write down something good that happened to you yesterday to relive the feeling.
  3. Exercise: See how your wellness and behavior relaxes your brain.
  4. Meditate: When you wake up and before you go to sleep, focus on one object, flow away from it, and then go back to the object.
  5. Random Acts of Kindness: Send one email per day that thanks someone in your social network.

Main Point: Positivity affects productivity and creativity, so make it a habit to be thankful for life each day. You don’t need to have everything to be happy. Personally, I find that being thankful has a direct correlation with my happiness, and the small things that might upset me don’t take away from my true happiness. After doing this five-step program, I felt more relaxed and productive.

2) Don’t waste your days.

Neil Pasricha – “The Three A’s of Awesome.”

Neil Pasricha, the award-winning author of the ‘1000 Awesome Things’ blog, gives you the Three A’s of Awesome that can ultimately give you a better outlook on life. From handling grief, to finding peace with your inner self, these three A’s can help anyone better distinguish themselves from the world.

The Three A’s:

  1. Attitude: You can either grieve, stress, and stay put, or grieve then move on.
  2. Awareness: Be aware of all the good things around you and don’t take them for granted.
  3. Authenticity: Be true to yourself.

Main Point:

You’ll never be this young again; so don’t waste your life on doing things that don’t make you happy. Out of all the A’s, I found that authenticity really resonated with me the most. Being comfortable can truly provide you with the best environment to stand out and impact the world. As an entrepreneur, I knew that I didn’t fit the status quo of working for others, but followed and surrounded myself with like-minded, rare individuals that motivated me to succeed. Warren Buffett’s quote of, “Tell me who your heroes are and I’ll tell you who you’ll become,” is a great representation of surrounding yourself with the right people to build the future you want.

 3) Happiness is a state of being ‘not a chase’.

Matthieu Ricard – “The Habits of Happiness.”

Former Biologist turned monk, Matthieu Ricard, gives us steps in his talk to deal with ways to better control our emotions. He also includes great tips to help move away from anger.

My three favorites:

  1. Look at anger outward rather than inward. Imagine it as something transparent – rather than menacing – like a cloud and it will vanish.
  2. Happiness isn’t achieved; it’s a state of being. It’s how we see the world.
  3. Inner conflicts are often linked with excessive looks to the past and anticipation of the future. We don’t look at the present moment we’re in to appreciate and focus.

Main Point:

Working to get everything to be happy isn’t the way to go. Be happy with what you have now. Happiness is a state of being and shouldn’t be seen as a way of achievement. Being focused solely on being happy in the future can make you forget on what makes you happy now. Along with this, one needs to control their emotions besides happiness. Learning how to control your emotions you can more effectively make decisions in business and even in life. I found that when I got angry when I lost a deal or something didn’t go my way, that if I approached it with the mentality to be appreciative of all the other things going right that I can better make decisions in response or for the future.

4) Focus on the tasks at hand to be happier.

Matt Killingsworth – “Want to be happier? Stay in the moment.”

Matt Killingsworth invented an app that can actually track happiness. He discusses some of his research on how mind-wandering affects productivity and overall happiness.

My three favorite points:

  1. When our minds wander, we often think about unpleasant things: worries, anxieties, regrets, or something neutral.
  2. When focused on the present, you’re more likely to be happy.
  3. Mind-wandering is frequent.

Main Point:

If you focus on what you’re supposed to do, you’re going to be a lot happier. However, when your mind wanders you’re more likely to give yourself negative emotions, therefore reducing the quality of your work. Focus on the task at hand, and exercise your mind to not stray away. A good way of doing this is to handle the hardest task of your day first, as it gives you relief that everything for the rest of the day will be much easier. I find that doing this helps me focus throughout the day.

5) Find the balance between short-term and long-term pleasures.

Daniel Goldstein – “The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self.”

Psychologist Daniel Goldstein speaks out on the constant struggle of instant versus long-term gratification. Goldstein details the factors of what one needs in order to make the correct choice that satisfies both your present and future self.

Here are three points that can help you better your decisions:

  1. We need to imagine ourselves more clearly in the future as products of our decisions.
  2. Commitment devices have three flaws: They make us feel like we’re no longer in power; causes us to create excuses to justify the easy way; and they don’t solve the problem between present and future self.
  3. We might neglect our future selves due to our lack of belief that we will get there.

Main Point:

Commitment devices, like New Year’s resolutions, aren’t designed to make us happy. A long-term solution for this is building up our own self-control. Delay instant gratification for long-term gratification. This takes true understanding of your goals, but it will ultimately help you achieve the goals that truly make you happy.

Happiness is a state of being not something we can reach, so enjoy the moment and the future will be even greater. Throughout my career at Big Fish Presentations I’ve always worked hard to get to bigger success, but that never let me appreciate how far we’ve actually come. These last couple weeks of watching these talks changed my overview of life.

So if you feel like you might need that type of change, I implore you to watch these talks as well. I truly believe applying these main points can help you become a better individual.

Happy holidays and, as always, thanks for reading.


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