3 Words for a Happy Approach to Life: How to Harness Their Power

Smile_face_white_backWhat are the 3 words for a happy approach to life and how can we harness their power?

I had no idea. But, I found a handful of experts who helped.

Meet Dr. Ed Diener.

Ed is the world’s foremost authority on the science of happiness. His 3-word (AIM) model for a happy approach to life is backed by hundreds of studies.

Here’s the three words from Ed’s model…

From: Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth

Upbeat folks tend to look for positives (Attention), often think of neutral events as being positive and find growth in adversity (Interpretation), and recall more rewarding memories (Memory).

Attention, Interpretation and Memory (AIM)

Now let’s find out how to harness their power to AIM for a happy approach to life.


How to Harness the Power of Attention

Our attention dictates what we see in the world. And research shows it’s impossible to see it all. There’s just too much happening. Our brains can’t keep up.

From: Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth

A powerful experiment showed our brains are information processors and the world is just too full of stimuli to effectively take it all it. Instead, we have to pick and choose what we pay attention to, and our brains are evolutionarily adapted to do this well.

With so much happening, it’s up to us to pick and choose what we want to notice. Our brains will notice anything we permit with our attention.

So how do we harness the power of attention for a happy approach to life?

Research shows several ways.

Focus on the Beauty Around Us

From: Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth

Because there are always both plentiful good things and bad things a person can notice, a person with the habit of attending mostly to the bad inherits the problems of living in an ugly world. In contrast, a person who develops the habit of attending to beauty, the small good works of others, and what is going right in life will enjoy a pleasant worldview.

So to enjoy a pleasant world view, we should take notice of the small works of others, the things in life that are moving in a positive direction, and the beauty all around.

Focusing on the beauty of our world will make us more satisfied with life.

Just how much you may wonder?

From: The 100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life

Those who said they regularly took notice of something beautiful were 12 percent more likely to say they were satisfied with their lives.

So we’re noticing the beauty around us and feeling more satisfied. Cool.

What’s next?

Cultivate Optimism

Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky says optimism is “expecting a desirable future, that good things will be abundant and bad things scarce.” Optimism makes us happier and it can be learned with practice.

Here’s How…

Focus on the Positive

Practice focusing on the positive. It makes for a happier world. I am sure you’ve seen the opposite.

Ever notice how unhappy people become when they focus on what’s lacking, what’s wrong, etc.? They are always dissatisfied.

Complain, complain, complain. Very draining. I’ve have yet to meet some one who looks forward to hanging out with a chronic complainer.

Let’s flip the switch here to light up the positive. It’s good for us. In fact, studies show that focusing on the positive helps folks raise their self-esteem and ward off depression.

From: Psychological Foundations of Success

People with low self-esteem or clinical depression focus too often on the negative things that happen to them;

recording positive events, or using other techniques that focus their thoughts and attention on the positive, helps alleviate their problems.

After focusing on positive events, practice looking at the bright side.

Look At the Bright Side

From: The How of Happiness

Looking at the bright side, finding the silver lining in a cloud, and noticing what’s right (rather than what’s wrong) are all optimism strategies. Optimism is not about providing a recipe for self deception. The world can be a horrible, cruel place, and at the same time can be wonderful and abundant. These are both truths. There is not a halfway point; there is only choosing which truth to put in your personal foreground.

What is an easy way to put optimism in our foreground?

Along with focusing on the beauty around us and looking on the bright side, we can improve our optimism by paying attention to the good qualities we notice in other people.

Pay Attention to the Good Qualities of Others

Verbalize our attention to the good qualities of others by complimenting them.

Your smile is contagious!

You like great today!

You should be proud of yourself!

You have a great sense of humor!

Complimenting others isn’t a butt kissing event. It’s a method to harness the power of attention for a happy approach to life and it makes people feel good.

Know what doesn’t?

Watching too much TV.

Happiness expert Dr. David Niven offers some evidence-based advice about the effects of TV.

His advice…

Safeguard Your Attention from Too Much TV

Dr. Niven says the TV’s picture is not a worldview we should accept.


TV can bring us down.

From: The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People

Television changes our view of the world, and can encourage us to develop highly unrealistic and often damaging conclusions that serve to reduce our life satisfaction by up to 50 percent.

Not only can TV reduce our life satisfaction, but research shows it can be a dagger to our optimism efforts. If we pay too much attention to the news, our future outlook might not be very positive. Here’s what Dr. Niven found.

From: The 100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life

People who consumed high levels of television news were twice as likely to have negative feelings about the direction the world is taking.

If we’re not careful, too much TV news can drain our happy juice. So let’s turn our attention away from the flat screen for a bit and wrap up the ways we can harness the power of our attention for a happy approach to life.


1. Research shows that to fully harness the power of our attention for a happy approach to life, we should focus on the beauty around us. Folks who did increased their life satisfaction by 12%.

2. Cultivate optimism by focusing on the positives, looking at the bright side and paying attention to the good qualities in others. Verbalize your compliments. Research shows that cultivating optimism can raise our self-esteem and keep depression away.

3. Studies show that safeguarding our attention from too much TV is a secret of happy people. Too much TV can reduce our life satisfaction by 50% and watching too much news may give us negative feelings about where our world is headed.

Stay tuned for…

Word #2 for a Happy Approach to Life: How to Harness The Power of Interpretation

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About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a personal trainer in Tolland as well as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

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