Two Easy Habits to Fuel Success and Change Your Relationship with the News

Michelle Gielan
Apr 21, 2017 · 3 min read
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Let’s see if this scenario sounds familiar: after hitting the snooze button at least three times, you finally turn to your phone and scroll through your emails. “I Need This ASAP!” they shout at you. Now, you’re stressed as you swiftly get up, take a shower, get dressed and chug your morning coffee. Getting a quick check of the news, your brain is bombarded by more political and civil unrest in the world. You leave the house feeling anxious and uncertain about what the day might bring.

I used to feel that way, too. In fact, I used to be the one who would report that negative news while as a national news anchor. But as I began to study the effects negative news can have on our overall well-being, I realized that we can rewrite our relationship with stressors in our life like our email and the news by shifting simple morning habits.

Two minutes is all it takes to prime our brain to be more optimistic all day long.

1. Don’t check your email. Write one first.

Starting your day with stressful emails doesn’t set your brain up for success. Even if you have an equal number of good and “bad” ones, the stressful notes are often scientifically more powerful because our brain was built to respond with greater attention to stressors in our environment.

Before you check your email, put yourself in the right frame of mind by taking two minutes to draft a positive note to someone in your social support network. Thank a friend or family member for their support, or praise a colleague on their recent work.

Getting the brain to focus on the ways in which others are supportive of you can act as a protective factor. Additionally, our research has found that providing social support in the form of kind words at work has been connected with increasing the chances of promotion by 40 percent over the next year.

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2. Skip negative news. Read a positive, solution-focused story first thing.

Just as negative emails can have a substantial effect on the rest of your day, the same goes with reading stressful or negative news, according to a study I conducted with Arianna Huffington and researcher Shawn Achor. We found that just three minutes of negative news can increase your chances of having a bad day by 27%.

Take some time to read a few positive, uplifting articles while you sip your morning coffee. Check out sites such as LiveHappy, TED, and Thrive Global — sites that focus solely on inspirational and creative news stories and ideas. Also a great choice would be articles from major news sites that discuss not just problems but solutions. Not only will this change how you process your day, you’ll also be able to inspire colleagues at work by sharing the positive news you read.

Thrive Global

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