Back in December, I wrote about an extremely enjoyable and edifying discussion I had with Michelle Gielan. Michelle is the author of Broadcasting Happiness and, along with Shawn Achor (author of The Happiness Advantage, one of the great books I read during the last few years), has created Inspire Happiness, a PBS special which aired in December and is airing again this month.

Here are some of the things I learned from Inspire Happiness about how to help other people to make changes they want to make:

  • Brainstorm with them about ways they can solve problems. This will help them to shift their thinking from problems to solutions. In the same way I have said the way to create new habits to is break them down into small pieces, Michelle and Shawn say small steps help you take a next step, whereas biting off too much short-circuits the brain. After brainstorming ideas, in order to avoid analysis paralysis, help them choose a first step to act on.
  • One of my favorite takeaways was changing a person’s self-image. Instead of complaining about what they are doing wrong, telling people what they are doing right is like the fuel a rocket needs to help it break free from gravity.
  • Mice run faster at end of a maze—when they are closer to their goal. People do, too. That is yet another reason why it’s important to celebrate your progress, as I have written about many times. Similarly, it helps remind them of another time they achieved a goal. That suggestion brought me back to when my kids felt overwhelmed by a something at school. I would remind them of past achievements (some of which they remembered, and some they didn’t). For example, I might remind them they once didn’t know how to read, or to shoot a basketball.

If you haven’t watched Inspire Happiness, I suggest you try to do so this month on your local PBS station. If you have tried to help people over and over and it hasn’t worked, Michelle and Shawn will give you a new approach so you can inspire others to make the changes they want to make. And because helping others may be the single greatest strategy for your own happiness, that’s a win-win we can all get behind.

What are some ways you have helped others make changes they want to make? Please join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,