It’s week 8 of quarantine and I finally succumbed to the siren song of Amazon Prime. That rounds out the quartet of streaming services that I joined since the stay at home order went out, and since the Washington DC mayor just extended things to June 8th, suffice it to say I should be able to get my money’s worth out of the 30 day free trial. The reason I now have a membership to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Amazon Prime is that somehow all the entertainment I want to see are equally sprinkled between these platforms. Netflix has The Good Place, Workin’ Moms, Mad Men, The Great British Bake Off. Hulu has Little Fires Everywhere, Brooklyn 99, Killing Eve and Normal People (books before TV/movies but as soon as I read it, I’m on it like a car bonnet). Disney Plus is an all you can binge buffet of nostalgia and childhood favorite films, 10 Things I Hate About You, Freaky Friday, The Parent Trap, The Lizzie McGuire Movie etc. Last but not least Amazon Prime is home to Fleabag, Sex & the City, Good Omens and my latest obsession The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
What’s not to love? The irreverent and impossibly chic heroine, her sass, the fact she curses as much as I do, the spot on fashion (seriously the costume designer deserves all the awards), the setting in sublime 1960s Manhattan? I think I most love that it’s all about a woman who has found her life turned upside down and is muddling her way through it with nothing but her wits and her sense of humor. It hits close to home given that none of us could have imagined today six months or a year ago.
This brings me to The Happiness Advantage. I had the pleasure of listening to New York times bestseller, Shawn Achor speak last week. Watch his TedxTalk here. He was supposed to lead a keynote at a conference that was canceled due to the pandemic and so instead they opened up a Zoom version of his session for everyone at my work. It was called Rational Positivity, and it was about the science of happiness. Achor is the author of two books; The Happiness Advantage is about how happy people are more successful and live longer and the second Big Potential explores how when we are surrounded by a supportive group, all of our individual positive traits are exponentially amplified. He shared some anecdotes and wisdom from his years dedicated to studying the philosophical and scientific question of happiness. Some bits I jotted down in my notebook like the absolute nerd I am include:
- Our world is not survival of the fittest, it is survival of the best fit
- The height of our potential is predicted by the people around us
- A 2 minute habit to put your brain in positive gear: think of three new things every day that you’re grateful for, the act of scanning and engaging in gratitude for 21 days in a row will make your brain more positive
- Social connectivity is one of the greatest indicators of longevity and resiliency
- One of the most powerful things you can do is write a 2 min email or text thanking someone in your life each day for 21 days, because after 7 days you exhaust friends/family and you have to dig deep and think about all the people who have made an impact on your life
- How to respond to the ‘no’ – with your ‘in case of emergency folder’ a.k.a your collection of good and positive things to look back on when the terrible days do happen. Doing this exposes your brain to a storehouse of positive energy, because you forget 80% of the positive moments unless you have a deliberate way to recall them
- Loneliness isn’t the absence of people, it’s the absence of having a meaningful impact on someone
So how are these two things connected? Well when life gives you lemons, you make a dirty joke. The beauty of comedy is that it makes people feel connected to one another. It’s the reminder that we all are just stumbling our way through life. It’s a finding laughter in fear, sorrow, anger and uncertainty. It’s Mrs. Maisel, soaking wet and mascara running down her face cracking jokes because sometimes laughing is the only option when it all goes to shit. If you can create humor, you can turn on a light in the dark; and if you can make someone else laugh, you can weather any storm.