Broadcasting Happiness: A Q & A with Author Michelle Gielan
You are a broadcaster. Every moment of your day you broadcast messages to others in a way that creates success or holds you back from living the life of your dreams.
In her new book Broadcasting Happiness, Michelle Gielan, former CBS News anchor turned happiness researcher, shares the science and communication strategies that will help you realize your full power to lessen the ill effects of stress and negativity and positively influence the people around you.
Here, Parade talks to Gielan about how to create, as she describes it, newfound levels of happiness and success for all.
Parade: New research you recently completed shows that the choices we make regarding which news stories to watch matters greatly. What did you find?
Michelle Gielan: Our mindset is a reflection of the information we consume. People exposed to just three minutes of negative news in the morning were 27percent more likely to report their day as unhappy six-eight hours later! The results of this study were shocking because it is the first of its kind to show news has a long lasting effect on mood. The study is part of a series I am conducting with researcher Shawn Achor in partnership with Arianna Huffington to better understand what kind of news to consume to fuel success at work, school and even at the gym during a workout.
Parade: In Broadcasting Happiness, you say, “We’re all broadcasters.” Can you elaborate?
MG: Our words create our experience of the world. While anchoring two national programs at CBS News, I wanted to learn how to tell news stories more effectively in a way that empowered people to make positive change. I left to study positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and while there I had an epiphany.
We are all broadcasters. We all constantly broadcast messages to the people in our lives in a way that creates motivation and connection or holds us all back. Saying “What a stressful day!” to your family when first walking through the door after a long day creates a very different outcome than focusing on the best part of your day. People who “broadcast happiness” choose to focus on the positive and broadcast that activated, optimistic mindset to others, and research shows that approach fuels every business and educational outcome we can test for including energy, performance and intelligence.
Parade: By choosing to “broadcast happiness,” does that mean we should ignore the negative?
MG: Optimism is the belief that good things will happen and that our behavior matters. If rational, both optimists and pessimists see the world accurately; they just have completely different ideas on what is possible in the face of challenge. We don’t want to ignore the negative, but it’s important to maintain an empowered mindset in the face of it and broadcast that to others to continually fuel resilience and forward progress.
Parade: In your book you provide seven strategies to activate the “Hidden 31” and make even the most negative people more positive. Can you tell us more?
MG: In a cross industry research study I did with Training Magazine, we found that 31 percent of people are optimistic but not expressive of it. Why that matters: It is not the most negative or positive person that wins the battle for culture at work and home, it is the most expressive one. If we can activate the “31” to speak up, positive people can drown out the negative people.
Parade: What’s one thing we can do right now to get others to broadcast their positive mindset?
MG: By starting conversations, meetings and dinners with the “Power Lead”—by saying something positive and meaningful—we give license to others to do the same. Do it enough and it becomes the new normal and fuels success. A manager who put this “Power Lead” strategy into practice increased his team’s productivity by 31 percent in just three weeks, and a school district in Washington State applying broadcasting happiness strategies raised the graduation rate from 44 percent to 92 percent in eight years.
Happiness research not only shows us the potential for positive change, it is an essential science-based tool for optimal living, especially for leaders in every organization, family, and community