Try Serena Williams' Super Quick Happiness Hack

It's all in the wrist.

31/10/2015 12:12 AM AEDT | Updated 31/10/2015 1:20 AM AEDT

In the November issue of Wired, for which she's both the guest editor and cover girl, tennis pro Serena Williams reveals a technological trick that pretty much guarantees a good mood. She writes:

I started using affirmations as the passwords to my phone and my computer. (No, I’m not going to tell you what my current affirmation is!) You should try it. You’ll be surprised how many times a day you log in and have an opportunity to trigger the positivity. I love that I can use technology that way.

Using positive affirmations is not some hocus pocus hooey: Scientists find reasons to back the practice, too. 

Research from Carnegie Mellon University found that personal affirmations can improve problem-solving under stress. "People under high stress can foster better problem-solving simply by taking a moment beforehand to think about something that is important to them," said J. David Creswell, assistant professor of psychology in CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. "It's an easy-to-use and portable strategy you can roll out before you enter that high pressure performance situation."

Know what's stressful? A career-making tennis tournament. 

Psychotherapist and author Ronald Alexander put it into perspective in a blog he wrote for HuffPost:

An affirmation can work because it has the ability to program your mind into believing the stated concept. This is because the mind doesn't know the difference between what is real or fantasy. When you watch a movie and you start to laugh or cry your mind is empathizing with the characters on the screen even though it is only Hollywood magic.

Positive thinking is a tool many athletes employ to get on their "A" game, and positive self-talk is a pillar of sports psychology because it's been proven to enhance performance. Just a month ago, Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall posted empowering words on his Instagram:

A photo posted by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

But William's positive password maneuver is especially ingenious because it requires little work. Since password input is a fact of life anyway, you don't have to set aside five minutes to dedicate to affirmations. You'll just have to change your passwords once to reap the benefits. 

In 2014, writer Mauricio Estrella went as far to say that changing his passwords changed his life. Estrella found that changing his passwords to symbolize the changes he wanted to make in his life made those changes actually materialize. For example, Estrella once made his password "Forgive@h3r," which was a nod to making peace with his ex-wife. He had to type "Forgive@h3r" every day for 30 consecutive days in order to access his computer.

In the following days, my mood improved drastically. By the end of the second week, I noticed that this password became less powerful, and it started to lose its effect. A quick refresh of this 'mantra' helped me. I thought to myself I forgive her as I typed it, every time. The healing effect of it came back almost immediately.

Pretty powerful stuff. If the simple tweaking of a digital password can make a tennis pro feel strong and a dude down on his luck turn his life around, it's worth trying at least once, don't you think? Ush0u1d!


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