Make Life Slow Down

Do you feel like life comes at you too quickly to respond in the way you want? Your ability to respond to an ever-changing world is predicted by how big a paddle you think you have. Let me explain.

Pong, one of the oldest video games, is a primitive game of virtual pingpong—you control a paddle on screen, moving it to the left or right to block a ball from getting past you. In one study, researchers cleverly manipulated their subjects’ perception of their ability to win—they gave some participants a longer paddle (which made the game easier) and some a shorter paddle (making it harder).

Though paddle size matters, it has no effect on the ball’s speed. Yet the participants with the large paddles judged the ball to be moving significantly slower. When success seemed more likely, the ball slowed down in their mind’s eye.

Want life to slow down? Build a larger paddle by gathering your resources (friends, education, information, tools). Whenever you start a new project, write down a list of the amazing resources you have at your disposal and put it in a visible place. This shows your brain that success is more possible. To respond faster to life, to misquote Theodore Roosevelt, walk confidently and carry a big paddle.

Perspective is a powerful thing. Find out why looking at your life from multiple vantage points can improve your results.


Shawn Achor is a Harvard-trained researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness. Get a daily dose of happy at Shawn's Facebook page.

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