Today, I choose to be happy

Growing up, I admired my Mom for being in a great mood every day. I once asked her how she did it, how she managed to never be grumpy, and she told me, “I choose to be happy.” I think of those words often, and try to emulate her (“try” being the operative word). This morning, this choice is proving to be particularly challenging, given how the AFC Championship game ended last night. However, I have extra motivation, and extra inspiration to get me there, thanks to Shawn Achor.

Yesterday, in addition to being a huge football day and the day President Obama was sworn in to his second term, was the first day of Serious Business. My highlight of the conference was hearing a Harvard academic confirm what my mother told me all these years. Indeed, Shawn Achor’s research proves that:

1.      Scientifically, happiness is a choice.

2.      Happiness spreads.

3.      Happiness is an advantage.

Achor challenged us to switch our thinking from believing that hard work will lead to success which will lead to happiness, and start raising our optimism level in order to be more successful. Happiness should not be on the opposite side of success; happiness is not the result of success. Instead, success is easier to achieve when one is happy; apparently, the human brain works much better when it is happy.

So how can one be happier? Achor gave us some exercises to do to retrain our brain and raise our happiness levels. He proposed five habits we could choose from, and made us pick one and promise to do it 21 days in a row, at the start of the day:

  • 3 Gratitudes: Write down 3 new things you are grateful for each day; be specific. (Rewires brain for greater optimism)
  • Journaling:  For 2 minutes, describe a meaningful experience from over the past 24 hours. (Doubles the meaning in your life)
  • Fun Fifteen: Add 15 minutes of fun, active cardio. (Creates a cascade of success)
  • Meditation: Invest 2 minutes to train your brain to just watch your breath. (Undoes negative effects of multitasking)
  • Conscious Act of Kindness: 2 minute email, thanking one person in your social support network. (Increases greatest predictor of happiness)

I chose the Conscious Act of Kindness, and not because he said that a brain scan shows that the brain looks like it is on cocaine while doing this! This morning, before reading my emails, looking at Facebook, or listening to the Patriots post-game press conferences that I couldn’t handle last night, I emailed my favorite sports journalist, Andrea Kremer, to thank her for making so many football games, over so many years, so much fun to watch.

Any given Sunday

The day after the Superbowl is always a sad day. After all, it signals the end of football season. Today, however, is particularly sad. My beloved Patriots lost. I woke up a few times last night hoping that it was all a nightmare. Then I woke up for real this morning and turned on NPR, only to listen to Superbowl commentary and relive the 4th quarter. This game 4 years ago broke my heart, and it broke all over again last night. Rather than dwell on the fact that we really should know how to count to 11, on the fact that even the best teams, even the best players, still get the jitters, and on the passes that Brady threw that should have been caught, let me focus on what was amazing last night.

Faith Hill was amazing. She gave me goose bumps, as she does every Sunday evening during football season.

Al Michaels was amazing. His voice is just like no other, even when he says things like “The Giants are looking like they should have been the favored team.” Even Eminem agrees that Al is the best football commentator.

Madonna was amazing. True Blue was the first cd I ever bought for myself. I loved her in the 80s, and admire her even more today. No wardrobe malfunction. No malfunction at all actually. Maybe a misstep, but that didn’t slow her down. Her production was cinematic. I want to dance like that and look like that when I am her age.

David Beckham was amazing. Enough said.

The Fiat commercial was amazing. Italians know how to make a sexy commercial, and Italian is the sexiest language.

Clint Eastwood was amazing. His voice rivals Al’s. And I have a soft spot for Detroit, even though I have never been there.

The Patriots’ performance was not amazing, however, and tears were shed. According to the Bud commercial, “Great times are awaiting.” I guess that means there is always next season. Forever Forward. Forever Football.

Learnings from Monday night football

If you know anything about me, you know that I love football. If you know lots of things about me, you know I am a die-hard Patriots fan, and have been since 1997. Given these two facts, I am sure you can understand how exciting the last 6 days have been. Last night was particularly exciting. I watched the first Patriots game of the season in the privacy of my own home, and loved every minute of it. Not only did the Patriots win, which in itself is cause for celebration. Records were broken. Even better, records were broken in Miami, which I think is sometimes the Patriots’ kryptonite. Brady threw for 517 yards, the 5th best record in NFL history. The most pass yards in the history of the Patriots’ franchise. Last night, Brady made Monday Night Football history.

As if the game weren’t enough, I had to watch SportsCenter for the hour following, listening to the announcers and to Brady and Welker. And listening to the post-game show, I thought about how football and building a brand have so much in common.

–          It’s first and foremost about hard work

–          Learning everything you can about your opponent (aka your competition) makes you better

–          Everything matters and details are important

–          It’s also a bit about magic (aka luck?)

–          It’s a lot about the absolute will to make something happen, the determination and strength to never give up

–          It’s a team sport and sharing the victories is key

–          Great communication is essential to success

–          A great coach (aka mentor) is invaluable

–          Sometimes 4 hours feel “like a 6 hour game” (as 4 years sometimes feel like 6 decades)

What a game. What a Monday night. What a start to the football season.

Grateful… for football

It is Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving Thursday, and as if yesterday wasn’t enough, I can’t wait to have some leftovers for lunch and watch more football this afternoon (college in this case, Alabama vs. Auburn). Yesterday was one of my most fun Thanksgivings ever. Instead of listing the really important things I am grateful for this year (family, friends, a fiancé, health…), I thought I should focus on what really occupied my day yesterday, namely football.