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  • BroadcastingHappiness_Interior.indd 2 6/10/15 9:10 AM

    Exclusive Excerpt

    This file is intended for promotional or review purposes only and should not be sold, used for profit, or distributed to any non-media persons.

  • The Science of Igniting and Sustaining

    Positive Change

    BROADCASTING

    HAPPINESS

    MICHEL L E G IEL A N

    BenBella Books, Inc. Dallas, TX

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  • i x

    INTRODUCTION

    I knew something was wrong, but I was on a meteoric rise.

    In the midst of going from anchoring a local news broadcast

    in El Paso, Texas, to hosting two national news programs at CBS

    News in New York, I saw something while reporting on the south

    side of Chicago that would eventually change my lifes story.

    It was the sixth funeral Id covered in as many months. But

    this one was different. It was a funeral for a child: A ten-year-old

    girl had been shot by a stray bullet from gang gunfire at her own

    birthday party.

    As a news reporter, I knew the formula to use to tell the

    story. I had told this story countless times before. It was a sensa-

    tional one of random violence, full of raw emotion from family

    members, which would leave viewers shocked and fearful that

    this could happen to their loved ones too. And just like many

    viewers, I didnt know if I should feel numb to the violence or

    terrified at every moment that life could randomly and irrevo-

    cably be destroyed.

    I was tired of it. As I sat in that church in Englewood, one of

    the roughest neighborhoods of Chicago, I was surrounded by a

    black congregation that was tired too. Yet amidst the emotional

    exhaustion there were stories of hope, and those stories changed

    the trajectory of my life.

    As I listened to the preacher and watched the violence-ravaged

    congregation surround the grieving mother and sway together to

    songs of prayer, I realized that the story we often told on the

    newsa sensational tale of yet one more act of gang violence

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  • x

    I N T R O D U C T I O N

    stealing our kids from uswas only one of the possible stories

    we could choose to tell. It was one that paralyzed the community

    instead of rallying everyone together for action. I thought, what

    would the ripple effect be if we were to focus on the other possi-

    ble stories unfolding that day?

    We could tell the story of a mom surrounded by a loving

    community that supported her in a time of great challenge.

    We could talk about how, despite this tragic act of violence,

    according to the stats, Englewood was slowly becoming a better

    place to live, thanks to specific coordinated efforts by the police,

    community leaders, and local residents.

    Instead of focusing solely on the pain and desperation, the

    story could also highlight the hope, optimism, and resilience of

    this community. These were all equally true facts.

    It was clear to me that there was a better way for us to tell sto-

    ries, but I had my sights set on a national news position in New

    York. It was a job I landed two years laterright as the economy

    collapsed. From my anchor desk at CBS News, I covered the

    greatest economic downturn in the United States since the Great

    Depression. We told heart-wrenching stories of the destruction

    of peoples lives as they lost their homes, jobs, and retirement

    savings. And the sad stories didnt end with the economy. The

    lights hanging above a multimillion-dollar studio shone down

    on me as I described in detail how five million barrels of oil dev-

    astated the Gulf of Mexico and its surrounding communities.

    On July 17, 2010, I left.

    It was not because we were telling negative stories or because

    of the long hours and early mornings. And it wasnt lost on me

    what I would be giving upbroadcasting to millions of people

    every time that red light went on over the camera.

    I left because I had seen another light. This book is about

    that story.

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  • x i

    I N T R O D U C T I O N

    Throughout this book, youll see what I saw over the course

    of the five years that followed my leaving CBS. Youll see how

    people can change the trajectory of their families, companies, and

    communities when they change the stories they communicate.

    How a single leader at a massive national insurance company

    changed the way his team thought about its work and tripled rev-

    enues. How a news series focused on fostering happiness during

    the recession, which didnt mention a single negative story, got

    the highest viewer response of the year. How a pair of estranged

    brothers, each facing the threat of losing his home, reunited to

    live together. How managers at a certain company trained their

    brains to experience 23 percent fewer negative effects of high

    stress. How a school district raised its graduation rate from 44 to

    89 percent in a few short yearsand how its not done improving

    yet. How a two-minute habit can change someone from being a

    lifelong pessimist into an optimist. How shifting their mindset

    about getting older can scientifically alter the aging process for

    a group of seventy-five-year-old men. How a forward-thinking

    media mogul is using positive research to transform news cov-

    erage. And how you can use all of the incredible research from

    positive psychology and the phenomenal stories in this book to

    better your life.

    I didnt stop being a broadcaster when I left CBS. I learned

    that we are all broadcasters, and by changing the stories we

    transmit, we can create positive change.

    We do it by broadcasting happiness.

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  • 1

    1

    THE VALUE OF BROADCASTING HAPPINESS

    I am a happiness researcher. But I didnt start out that way.

    In fact, I am a computer engineer with a specialty in elec-

    trical engineering and systems architecturewho just wanted

    to be on TV.

    My dream was to become a network news anchor broadcast-

    ing from New York City. The reality is that you dont start your

    career in New York. You start anywhere theyll take you.

    Realizing that, I sent one-hundred fifty tapes to news stations

    around the country. I got one call.

    Bienvenidos El Paso! I heard on the other end of the line, and

    I packed my bags for Texas. I worked such an awesome schedule

    there; it led me to ponder some deep philosophical questions,

    including: If you start your newscast at 3 a.m., do you begin with

    Buenas noches or Buenos das?

    I would like to say that my rise to media prominence was

    due to my hard-hitting investigative stories in El Paso. But that

    would not quite be accurate. Some of my top stories included

    Bed Bugs Invading Your Mattress, Skin-Eating Fish DO

    Make for a Better Pedicure, and there was, of course, my biting

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    B R O A C A S T I N G H A P P I N E S S

    interview with the Dalai LlamaI mean, Dolly the Llama.

    Yes, that interview went down at a petting zoo.

    But because of some luck and determination, a year later I

    found myself in Chicago, covering city hall, and doing an inves-

    tigative series on alleged police brutality. Because of that work,

    a short time after that I was sitting in the anchor chair at CBS

    News in New York City.

    I was over the moon and thankful every morning for what I

    knew was a one-in-a-million dream job. CBS News is an incred-

    ible place to work to effect large-scale change. I anchored two

    early morning news programs and did reports for The Early

    Showmore recently named CBS This Morning with Charlie

    Rose and Oprahs best friend, Gayle King. My office was down

    the hall from Andy Rooney. Katie Couric would often stop by

    the studio. I met and interviewed newsmakers, politicians, and

    celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Donald Trump, and Deepak

    Chopra. For most of the time I was at CBS News, I was given

    more airtime than any other anchor or reporter. And every time

    the red light went on over the camera, I was broadcasting to mil-

    lions of people. I was one grateful former computer programmer.

    But within weeks of getting to that anchor desk, the econ-

    omy tanked. All of a sudden the news cycle became overtaken

    with heart-wrenching economic stories in addition to the usual

    reports of murder, death, and destruction. Morning after morn-

    ing we watched as families lost their homes during the recession

    and ended up on the streets. We heard about single mothers-

    of-three who couldnt keep their jobs and were sinking deeper

    and deeper into debt. About couples in their seventies whose

    retirement accounts had been decimated and who were fall-

    ing behind on paying their basic medical bills. Over and over,

    our mornings began with helplessness and hopelessness. It was

    painful to watch, especially from a dark news studio, on repeat