Years ago, I discovered Yoga with Adriene. Her method relied less on stringent perfection and on more on finding what felt good. I loved it so much, I found myself thinking variations of "find what feels good" throughout the day. I internalized it so much that when I saw the title of Ali Abdaal's new book Feel Good Productivity, the devilish part of my brain piped up in complaint. That's the title of my book! (The imaginary book I may, or may not, have written someday.) Pshh. Ali's been a force for good on the interwebs for years now and I'm just grateful this book now exists. It will do so much good in the world.
Because after far too long of pushing ourselves to be and do more, oftentimes denying ourselves any good feelings at all, shouldn't we all be crying out for more of what feels good?
Obviously I'm not talking about carnal pleasures here. Get your minds out of the gutters, people.
Doing what feels good isn't just a cute phrase to haul out when you need an excuse for not getting things done: It's a legitimate, proven, and effective approach to being more and doing more—and having a great time doing it.
In his book, Ali references a positive psychology theory positied by Barbara Fredrickson called "broaden and build."
When we feel good, we broaden—our minds open, allowing us to take in more information and see the possibilities all around us. When we feel good consistently, we build a reservoir of resilience, creativity, connections and more, allowing us to return to feeling good more quickly and reliably.
Positive emotions are the fuel that drives the engine of human flourishing." ~ Ali Abdaal
I grew up in the "no pain, no gain" era, which wasn't limited to the gym. This was our way of life. If you weren't exhausted, overworked, and lonely (because who had time for meaningful relationships?), you weren't working hard enough. It feels almost radical to consider a life of feeling good.
Ali lists three reasons why we're legitimately more when we do what feels good:
Feeling good boosts our energy. This is a bit of the chicken-or-the-egg conundrum, so go with me here. If you feel good, you're going to produce more of the feel-good hormones, which will help you feel even better, longer. When you feel good, you're more energized and productive—leading to an increased sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which leads to...you guessed it...more good feelings. Don't worry—it is a head-scratcher. At least you don't have to know which comes first to experience its truth.
Feeling good is a natural stress-reducer. You've probably heard how too much stress is bad for the body—but have you heard about the effects of feeling good? In another of Fredrickson's studies, she found that individuals who were generally positive returned to their contented state quickly after experiencing stress and negativity.
Feeling good enriches your life. This time, a different group of psychologists asked the question, "Does success make us happier? Or does happiness make us more successful?" The study produced hard evidence that the latter is true: Positive people are and do more.
"These people bring an infectious energy to their environment, provoing more likely to enjoy fulfilling relationships, get higher salaries and truly shine in their professional lives." ~ Ali Abdaal
As part of my own transformational journey into living a happy life, I found Ali's book inspiring, helpful, and affirming because ever since I started following Adriene's advice to find what felt good, I've discovered a version of myself that I love and a life I am so honored and grateful to claim as my own.
Am I free of troubles, worries, and stressors? Heck, no! Is every day a technicolor musical? I wish. I still live a normal life with health concerns, money troubles, and worry for my children, but it doesn't get me down (or keep me down for long). And I wasn't always this version of myself, either—I had to work for it. But that's a story for another day.😉 For now, I want to dive into Ali Abdaal's book Feel Good Productivity, because I want you to know what I know, to feel what I feel. And because the book is awesome and there's a lot of golden nuggets in there I want to explore—for your sake, and for mine.
If you listen to audiobooks, I highly recommend grabbing the audio of Feel Good Productivity. Ali narrates it himself and he's enjoyable to listen to.