Did you know there's one simple thing you can do at the beginning of your workday to improve your happiness, performance and overall well-being? At Plasticity, our mission is to give people the skills to create happier, higher performing workforces. And even though we say that the habits of high performing people require intention and effort to build, those actions don’t need to be complicated. They can be as simple as brushing your teeth, holding the door open for someone, or perhaps even as simple as saying 'thanks'. All you need is a pen and a piece of paper to write down one thing or person you are grateful for everyday. It's as simple as that!

The growing field of positive psychology has brought with it a focus on gratitude; an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has (Psychology Today, 2014). While many of us have been busy journaling about the things we’re grateful for, researchers have also been busy scientifically examining if, and how, expressing gratitude benefits us. They’ve been tackling questions like Does noticing and identifying the things we’re grateful for contribute to our well-being? And, perhaps not surprisingly, it does.

Habits can hurt or help performance – here’s how to use them to your advantage.

John Dryden, a British poet, famously said “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” John Bargh and Tanya Chartrand, In their landmark paper The Unbearable Automaticity of Being, John Bargh and Tanya Chartrand argued that unconscious, automatic (i.e., habitual) thoughts and behaviors govern most of our lives, crowding out and overtaking willpower. Habits can work for us or against us. Just as we can find ourselves checking our favorite internet site at work before we realize we’ve typed in the web address, we all type effortlessly on a keyboard without having to think about which letter is where. One of the keys to peak performance is the active creation of the habits that benefit you, all while eliminating ones that do not.

How can a tiny change have world-class impact? In January of 2010, Dave Brailsford set out to change the face of top-tier cycling. He had just created Britain’s now-famous Team Sky, a national cycling team that competes in all the major world events and the Olympics. Brailsford had secured funding for the new team under a single, serious condition: they had to win the Tour de France in five years. No British cyclist had ever won before.

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