The Positive Advantage

Posted: January 23, 2018 in Life
Tags: , , , , ,


It’s been a while since I’ve written anything and certainly a while since I’ve attempted to write based on my general pondering. So in an attempt to extrapolate my thoughts from over 2 months ago, I figured I’d try and articulate some of those musings.

The preface lies in a 2011 TED clip I watched back in October 2017 called ‘The happiness advantage’. In this piece, psychologist Shawn Achor outlines a very fascinating idea and articulates it with gorgeous wit and humour. So if nothing else, it’s sure to bring a smile to your face even before getting to the crux.


To summarise, he discusses an already well-talked about idea that changing the lens we choose to see the world through can change how we perceive and behave in the world as well. He suggests, what many of us already intuitively realise, that by constantly pushing the definition of happiness beyond our achievable horizon, we are ensuring a perpetual state of unhappiness. So this brings to the heart of the issue, which is the fine-tuning of the mind to find happiness in what’s already within reach. Shawn discusses five steps that, if repeated for 21 days, have been shown (through his research across companies he’s worked with) to create a lasting change in how we process the world around us.


I took the first one of these, which was to pick 3 new things you’re grateful for, every day for 21 days. Figured I’d give it a try for 23 days (since I’m a sucker for prime numbers). The intent was not just to publicise my own notes, but to promote this idea which I did find to be quite an effective approach to focus on the good within some of the otherwise “average” days.
It wasn’t easy to begin with since I’d often end a day feeling like it went quite well but not be able to put my finger on why exactly. However, like most new endeavours, a bit of practice and cognisance went a long way in smoothening things out.


NOV 01
1. Every single person who got off the bus thanked the driver with a smile. 🙂
2. At the end of a meeting, my manager told me that he likes my work and that he is wholeheartedly behind me.
3. I went to a Deli near my place to get something and the store lady gave me a free piece of fried chicken and a tuna patty!
NOV 02
1. We had a fire drill at work and being one of the fire wardens, I assisted in leading the people out safely to the evacuation spot. This is the first time I’ve felt confidence and certainty in this task.
2. I had my first high-effort run today since I injured my shoulder two months ago. It hurt a lot but brought a big smile to my face.
3. Astrid called me when she was driving to her place from work, and we had a lovely chat. I love that we both know that we’ve got the other’s back.
NOV 03
1. Booked a place to celebrate my final birthday in the twenties bracket!
2. Met Andrew, the man who picked me for my current role, for coffee and had a wonderful chat. This, among other things, gave me clarity on how I wanted to shape my career next year.
3. Asked a friend with a newborn about what an expecting dad could read to prepare, and passed on the information to my brother who was happy to have it.
NOV 04
1. 6 year anniversary of my first step in Australia. 🙂
2. Lawrence got up at 02:30 this “morning” with an intent to try and walk 100,000 steps in a day! He estimates that it’ll require him to walk 22 out of 24 hours! I love crazy passion!!
3. Astrid and her friends celebrated my 6 yr anniversary at Astrid’s bday party by taking a moment each to say something nice about me, despite some of them barely knowing me!
NOV 05
1. Woke up hungover and tried to get my long run done and dusted early on. In the first 30 min, I stopped thrice and even got into my car twice with the intention of quitting. I made myself proud by fighting the easy way and seeing the run through!
2. Met my motorbike-riding friends, Justin, Tigon and Dave, after almost a year! It was so nice to see them again and they made it obvious that they were glad to see me too.
3. The barista at dogswamp was very friendly and spoke like she had a personal connection rather than make regular small talk. It’s always very refreshing to have those moments with strangers.
NOV 06
1. Started the Monday on a high note with a drive to start the week by kicking some goals at work, and keep that momentum going until the end of the week.
This seems to be happening more and more often. I can’t get enough of any day of the week!!!
2. With a crunch to get a run and a gym session done in the evening amidst other commitments, I pleasantly surprised myself by getting both done!
3. Have started formulating my plan to backpack through South America for two months early next year, which is exciting AF!
NOV 07
1. West Ang’s maintenance manager emailed my general manager, Cindy, to thank her for the work I had done for their site and to let her know how effective it had been. Cindy subsequently mailed me and my leadership team, thanking me for how I had gone about my projects through the year.
2. Of the 24 horses racing Melbourne cup, I picked a random one for a draw and it won! Just like 2 years ago. Luck is in the air, like it is so often!
3. Astrid got the job she interviewed for! She’s been so nervous today; I feel as happy as her about this!
NOV 08
1. Slept like a baby through a 90min flight up to a mine site. I’m getting good at this!
2. During a discussion with a site-based team at Hope Downs 1, a specialist introduced me to someone as “he’s the guy who responded to your query immediately and got things done”. It was genuine and flattering in the perfect way.
3. Had a lovely trail run in the camp site I was staying at that night. Running at a new location always feels so thrilling and fulfilling!
NOV 09
1. Chris and I had been having a very very quiet drive to the Hope Downs 4 mine site when my phone started playing a ‘Bullet for my Valentine’ track in the car. I felt conscious of Chris not being a metal lover, so asked him if that was cool. Apparently, he loved that stuff and this sparked a conversation for the rest of the drive!
2. Stopped at the HD4 camp to buy some choc milk. Got to the counter to pay and the lady looks at us and goes “Take it!”, before walking away. Ha!
3. Bushfires here at Newman caused road closures. Raced to the airport and did a dramatic run to the boarding gate as they were calling out my name, and ended up boarding exactly 8min before departure time. This wouldn’t have happened had the airport been in a bigger city.
NOV 10
1. Major breakthrough in a work project that has been working at snail’s pace so far. With the involvement and buy-in of the greater department, a much larger team is now on-board with a common mission to get this to success!! Feeling so much more supported with this change.
2. Caught up with my mentor and our hour-long discussion had me walking out as a man on a mission! I love talking to Ron. Moreover, it’s been really good to hear him be vocal regarding him being happy with the work I’ve been putting in.
3. [removed since deemed inappropriate]
NOV 11
1. First bike ride in 3 months! Feels good to be back on the wheels.
2. The neighbour’s cat is being extra friendly to me these days. I love that little ginger piece of feline goodness.
3. Have done some smart shopping to ensure that all my meals over the next week will be planned and in control.
NOV 12
1. Perth is heating up strong and making the runs a lot harder. On the flipside though, this will give me some seriously good conditioning for my next race in Santiago in April 2018.
2. Met Dan today who made no attempt at holding back his thoughts about wanting to celebrate my birthday and not worrying about the workouts he had in his plan for the next day. For a guy with his athletic ability and goals, that’s not a usual thing to say. Love this man.
3. I met Astrid, her brother, her sis-in-law and her niece. They were all so lovely and friendly to talk to, and Mia was just as adorable as I expected her to be (which is saying a lot)!
NOV 13
1. Carried out the first ‘Monthly Data Blackout Day’ today and thoroughly enjoyed it. I seemed to have more time for myself and not much pressure to reach back to people. It was surprisingly liberating!
2. This week is the second work-related training week, that’s part of a 3-week course (1 per month). It’s good to meet and interact with some of the other participants again; quite a few in there who are strong and wonderful personalities.
3. Tweaked my running plan a bit today. As I was planning the next week, I realised that I was finally coming to the point where scheduling in the planned amount of running was starting to be a stretch. It’s a good sign that suggests that my running volume is finally starting to get back to serious amounts, after weeks and months of carefully executed increments.
NOV 14
1. Have started making a list of words I don’t pronounce right, so I can practice them more often. Excited to see how my speech develops as a result!
2. Found a lady on gumtree who is willing to buy my tickets to South America (for March 2018) for 70% of the price. This way she can put her frequent flyer points to some use as well! WIN WIN!
3. Been told that I’m a “good egg” on two independent occasions through the day. Flattered in both situations!
NOV 15
1. Australians pushed the same-sex marriage survey with the verdict being in favour of marriage equality!! Proud to be one of the votes that will bring about this much-needed change!
2. Kat stated that every time she hears from me, my updates are along the lines of feeling charged and having kicked some goals in the past week, which she finds quite positive and energising.
3. Called some place up and after hearing me out, the first thing the receptionist said was “I love your accent!”. Quite flattering, albeit hard to believe.
NOV 16
1. My weight has started dropping for the first time in 4 months!
2. Caesar salad made by me for lunch at work today was 100% ON POINT and oozing with flavour.
3. After running my first tempo run in eons, I felt shattered and almost threw up. I love that I am able to push myself again!
NOV 17
1. Day 5 of week 2 of the longest work-related training course I’ve done. I never thought I’d say this but I feel that the skills from this course will help me across various fields at work AND IN PERSONAL LIFE!
2. One of the site general managers came down to our work training, and gave a bit of a talk about his experience. His energy and enthusiasm were enough to make a few of us want to pick up our game and do more!
3. Managed to book my flight tickets to Santiago for almost half the actual price, owing to the lady who wanted to use up her frequent flyer points in exchange for some cash.
NOV 18
1. In an attempt to cook something new, I went to the nearby butcher shop to buy some pork loin. After noticing my amateurish demeanour and the lack of “meat lingo”, she asked me if I’d like some tips on cooking it. She then took a couple of minutes to step aside and explain the basics to me, while a sizeable crowd waited behind me!
2. I asked on FB if anyone in India knew where I could find good pork tenderloin for cooking in Bangalore. Of all the people who live in Bangalore, it was my dad (who doesn’t cook at all) who found an answer after looking around. 🙂
3. Revisited a ‘Comedy Lounge’ stand-up comedy gig after 2 years, and had an amazing time!
NOV 19
1. Longest ‘long run’ in 3 months and I managed to get it done without any issues. The body is obviously adapting to the growing training load.
2. Went to the city and shopped a bit with Astrid. I don’t do this ‘shopping in the city’ business much, so I’m glad Pepper helped me through that!
3. Afternoon naps, when done right, can be the difference between a mopey evening after a long day and a high-functioning day (albeit with fewer hours). Naps FTW!
NOV 20
1. Ever since I dropped triathlon training, getting up at 5 and heading for a swim or a gym session has been a struggle. Took a baby step today by getting to the gym before 6 am.
2. Over lunch today, got an update on KB’s foot which looks to be a massive pain, both literal and metaphoric. It’s amazing and inspiring to see how positive he’s being despite the setback this has put to his goals.
3. Got a tour of the new office floor we’ll be moving into in a week, and it looks AMAZING! So lucky to have a chance to work in a modern setup such as this. Exciting times!
NOV 21
1. After 2 months of physio work, I got the green light to start skydiving again!
2. Perth’s scorching summer has suddenly done a 180 this week and become winter again! Weird, but I am certainly not complaining.
3. Been preparing for a workshop I will be leading on a mine site tomorrow. It’s been a bit of work, but I finally feel confident and positively excited about tomorrow!
NOV 22
1. Met GM of West Ang site today who remembered me from 4 years ago!
2. Workshop on site took a bit of effort to organise with the relevant people but went better than planned without coming across as gimmicky.
3. Between the 12-hour work day and evening drinks with some colleagues on site, I managed to slip in a decent run. Feeling pretty proud of that!
NOV 23
1. Workshop round 2 was even harder to organise but even more rewarding than the last one!!
2. Used Rio Tinto’s journey management facility for the first time where you call a number up and let them know the details of your travel (travel path, car rego etc.), and if you don’t check back to tell them that you’ve arrived, they get in touch with your emergency contacts to check up on you. A pretty nifty facility that they try to improve regularly.
3. Cab driver on the way home from the airport told me that I’m the only Indian he’s come across with this level of command over English. I realise that this is probably a case of a shitty sample set but I’ll take it as a positive remark regardless!

1. Just as I got to the bus stop in the morning, a guy passing by called out and told me that the bus had just gone past a couple of minutes ago and that there would be another one coming soon at a nearby stop. I walked him to the other stop and sure enough, there was one just as we got there!
2. As I was biting into an apple today, a passing colleague (male) jokingly muttered “Wish I was that apple……”. Made me chuckle and almost choke.
3. When I went for a run in the evening, I passed by a lady and her daughter (around 8-10yr old?). The daughter started running with me with her backpack and everything, and asked me innocent questions around where I was going and how much I planned to run that day. We both eventually stopped and her mum came over with a big smile the three of us exchanged a few words before I took off.
Don’t know what I expected but seeing the comfort and trust on the lady’s face made me feel warm and happy.


I’m not sure if this exercise has helped tune my brain into a new habit, but it has surely given me better appreciation of how lucky I am to have consistently good days while surrounded by some really good people. By the end of the second week, I was having to pick and choose the ‘top 3’ for the day from the few that I could think of.


Might not be a bad idea to try the other 4 recommendations from Shawn’s list as well!

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