Failure IS an Option

Many of you know know that I’m part of a happiness study founded by neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson, at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, UW-Madison. The science of happiness shows that failure is an option. What matters is how we respond to it.


Researchers found conclusively that we enjoy a higher quality of life when we experience a certain number of setbacks—5 to 7 of them. Why? Because setbacks give us confidence that we can weather adversity, and they also reinforce what we truly value—for example, health, loving relationships—which can result in enhanced priorities and different goals.

On the other hand:

  • Too many setbacks can result in breaking one’s spirit.
  • Too few setbacks can protect someone from developing resilience.

Resilient people tend to “make meaning” as difficult challenges are faced and overcome, which allows them to discover positive outcomes that wouldn’t have happened if the challenge hadn’t occurred. This is called BeneFindingfinding benefit in negative experiences.

What was the last benefit you found from a negative experience?


A Visual Escape

Recently I blogged about the Science of Happiness Project that I’m participating in. I received an email from one of the coordinators that said, “Remember that happiness isn’t simply determined by your genes, nor by what’s happening in your life — 40% of it is actually in your control.”

As a participant, I receive activities, quizzes, and games each day with the idea of building and strengthening happiness habits.

Do you remember the Highlights for Children magazine from when you were a kid? My favorite thing was finding pictures within a picture! Researchers have found that one way to build up and boost our mood is to engage in techniques that distract us from worry and help us avoid over-thinking.

Below is a scene I received with the instruction: “Find the following six objects hidden in the scene. Take you time and enjoy looking around to find them all:  pinecone, pigeon, hare, dandelion, wrong house number, and fish.”

In your life, what’s hiding in plain view?