Former engineer and now self-development guru Chade-Meng Tan joined Google in 2000 and became employee number 107. Together with other engineers, Tan contributed greatly to the creation of the company’s search engine, but that was not what made him popular.
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He later began teaching mindfulness classes for Google employees, for which he earned the nickname “Cheerful Good Guy.” Subsequently, Tan left his position as an engineer, founded the institute of mindfulness for corporate employees, and began writing books on self-development.
According to Tan, he used to constantly feel unhappy, but then everything changed. How did this happen? The guy was not even thirty, when he suddenly realized that self-loathing is a feeling that can be fought against, and temperament is a very pliable and changeable thing. You need to properly shape your thinking, Tang is sure. The formation of thinking proposed by him has little in common with psychotherapy and, rather, resembles mental exercises.
One of these mental exercises involves eating “little slices of happiness” and looking for joy in the little things.
“Right now I’m thirsty, so I’ll take a sip of water. When I do this, I will taste a little slice of happiness in space and in time. It doesn’t sound like “Wow!” But rather like “Oh, not bad at all,” says Tan.
As a rule, such small joys go unnoticed. The feeling when you take a bite of something edible, the feeling when in the heat you enter an air-conditioned room, the moment of unity when you receive a message from an old friend – these moments last two or three seconds, but they can lift your spirit. If you pay attention to joy more often, the more joy itself will be., says Tan.
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Once you start noticing these moments of happiness, they will accompany you everywhere.… This is because by noticing joy, you are accustoming your brain to it. This is how our nervous system forms habits.
Parts of the brain called the basal ganglia or basal nuclei are responsible for the usual human behavior. These same areas are responsible for memories and emotions. The better we get at something, the easier it becomes to repeat these actions without any cognitive effort.
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Tan’s exercise contains the three components needed to build a habit — trigger, routine, and reward. The trigger is the pleasant moment, the routine is paying attention to that moment, and the reward is a sense of joy.
This exercise will be a real boon for those who practice meditation.
“Paying attention sounds trivial, but it’s an important meditation practice in itself. Paying attention is a prerequisite for seeing. What we do not notice, we cannot see, ”Tan said.
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The former engineer’s theory is supported by a recent study by psychologists at Loyola University, in which people over the age of 55 took part. The study showed that participants in the experiment who know how to enjoy life are more satisfied with their condition even in poor health.
The ability to enjoy life increases with age. In 2014, marketing professionals at Dartmouth College conducted their own small study. As it turns out, older people tend to describe themselves by describing pleasant, everyday little things. At the same time, adolescents and young people under the age of 30 take advantage of outstanding moments in their lives, such as leaving school or buying their first car.
“When the future seems limitless, the ordinary things that make up everyday life are usually ignored. However, when people begin to realize that their days are numbered, these ordinary moments become a source of joy, ”the study authors write.