Mastering Your Reality: Michelle Gielan

In every moment, you choose who you want to be and how you want to live your life. It’s your ultimate power, and your inescapable responsibility. You’re the master of your reality.

Michelle Gielan was drawn to the science of happiness when she quit a dream job. As an anchor of two national news programs for CBS News, she was disturbed by the amount of negativity in her reporting. So she left to study positive psychology—the science of happiness and human potential—under Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania. Today, she’s a leading expert herself, and a best-selling author. She studies the power of mindset to create happiness and forward progress in our lives.

In this episode of Mastering Your Reality, Michelle and I discussed:

  • We can perceive different realities in the face of problems and challenges. Some engender hopelessness and negativity, while others inspire action and progress.
  • The news shows us a dark view of “what the world could be like,” and that view is corrosive and lasting. If you watch 3 minutes of news in the morning, you are 27% more likely to report that you’re having a bad day—6 to 8 hours later.
  • We can talk about negative things in a way that leaves us empowered—can “mine the data of our existence” to construct a reality that fuels us. The key is to focus on solutions. What is one small, meaningful action you can take right now to start solving the problem? That question alone has the power to shift your mindset dramatically.
  • In the midst of challenges, optimism is the belief that your actions matter and the expectation that good things will happen. With time and attention, we can practice optimism and become better at it
  • Communication is one of the best ways to combat stress—but not too much of it. Social connectedness is one of the best long-term predictors of happiness. Sharing stress in the absence of connection, however, can perpetuate a negative minset.
  • When you’re stressed at work, do you view the source of that stress as a threat or as a challenge? Your answer is one of the best predictors of your long-term success. You can change your answer with practice.
  • Take your vacation days, period. You’re more likely to get a raise and/or promotion if you do so, because you’re better at work with time off. No excuses.


Click here to learn more about Michelle’s work, or click here for more episodes of Mastering Your Reality.

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