It’s the little things that count the most

If there’s one thing that watching celebrity “reality” shows teaches you, it’s that rich and famous people aren’t any happier than the rest of us. You’d think that having all that money and notoriety would make people wildly happy. But it doesn’t. And if you’re walking around thinking, “Well, if I won the lottery, I’d be gloriously happy for the rest of my life,” nope, you wouldn’t. Practically everybody who comes into sudden wealth gets happy momentarily and then returns to their former level of happiness (or unhappiness) as before. So what does bring lasting happiness?

dttsp869_600In a nifty little study, Daniel Mochon of MIT (now at Tulane University) and his colleagues asked if small, repeated actions might be the best way to improve your sense of well-being over the long term. The researchers looked at two sorts of behaviors that they imagined might increase people’s sense of well-being: spiritual expression (in the form of attending some sort of religious service) or engaging in physical activity (either at a gym or practicing yoga). In before/after comparisons, the participants reported an increase in their sense of well-being.

Happiest over all were Mormons and people of Baha’i faith.   The least happy were Catholics and Quakers. But “least happy” here was still pretty darn happy (an average of 70 on a 100 point scale when rating themselves on questions like “How happy are you with your life in general?”) The biggest before/after boost was experienced by the Greek Orthodox; people placed in the generic “Christians” category experienced no change in their sense of well-being (~82/100).

While their results aren’t that surprising (to me, anyway, since I both attend religious services and practice yoga), the researchers themselves were surprised. That’s because they subscribe to the “hedonic treadmill” idea, which posits that you have a “set point” of happiness that neither good nor bad events effects very much. Their conclusion: “…people who engage in these activities often enough will end up with higher well-being.” Put another way, regular, small boosts will increase your sense of happiness over the long term.

Here’s how to put these results to work for yourself:

  • Find an activity to try. It could be taking a walk, attending a religious service, or taking a yoga class. The choice is up to you, just make sure it’s something you can participate in regularly.
  • Keep track your sense of well-being before and after the activity. A scale of one to five works just fine. After you’ve attended several sessions (say three to five), evaluate. If you’re seeing some increases, then make a longer term commitment. If not, try something else.
  • If you want an even bigger boost, add in the “three good things” exercise. Personally, I keep a gratitude journal, which I find keeps me focused on positive emotional experiences on a daily basis (and probably provides the same kind of small boosts).

Updates! New Book, New Look, New Team Member

I wrote a book!

For the past five years or so, every vision board of mine held the same aspiration: Write a book. Well what do you know? I wrote one! I’m delighted to share that St. Michael’s Press will be publishing my book, Sexy + Soul-full: A Woman’s Guide to Productivity, in early 2016!

I am so, so proud of this book, y’all. My heart and soul are on every single page. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing more about the book and the journey of writing it—which took me a little over two years. Just today, I sent off the final set of corrections of the interior layout (which is absolutely gorgeous, by the way). The cover art is still underway so stay tuned for the big reveal coming up later this month! In the meantime, here is a  short excerpt from the Introduction:

My book is intended to provide you with a feminine perspective on productivity. For too long, women have been hammered with the notion that they can (and should) “have it all.” This cultural imperative is predicated on two equally damaging falsehoods: “You are not enough,” and “More is always better.” Both of these white lies encourage women to over-commit, to say “yes” to everything, to pit having a family against having a career, all while telling women to define their worth by their accomplishments. Simultaneously, the work world, which is dominated by men, harps on putting our families and our loves last—or at least, putting them aside—in favor of career achievement and work success.

While women are caught between trying to have it all and putting their loves on hold, the productivity experts pile on their primarily masculine values and viewpoints, giving women no truly feminine and heartfelt guidance on how to “get it all done” and still have energy, joy, and stamina to enjoy their lives.

Sexy + Soul-full productivity is not about “having it all.” It’s about having enough.

Sexy + Soul-full productivity is not about sacrificing your loves on the altar of your career. It’s about putting your loves first, unapologetically, and placing your work in support of those loves.

A New Look trr101215

Over the past year, I designed two websites for clients. Meanwhile, my own site needed love and attention. A couple of weeks ago, I handed all the wireframes to my incredible developer, Kelly Wildman, to give my website a major redesign.

The look and feel of my brand is getting a total makeover! Here’s a little sneak peek. Yep, those are the same boots I wore when I did my TEDx.

A New Team Member

IMG_9185I am over the moon to introduce my newest team member, Pam King, Manager of Hospitality and Audience Delight. Pam and I have known each other for many years and when she decided she was ready for a new phase in her life, I invited her to join me here at Productivity HQ. Pam will be relaunching my newsletter (yeah, I know it’s been—um—like three years since I sent a newsletter) and managing my Facebook page. Pam is also a Coach-in-Training! Welcome, Pam!

Tara’s TEDx: Three Destructive Myths About Time

Recently, I went way out of my comfort zone and gave a TEDx! Here it is. Enjoy!

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