Kathy Caprino with Forbes.com shared an article about a riveting TED Talk by the world’s leading positive psychology expert and bestselling author Shawn Achor on The Happy Secret to Better Work.
Shawn is the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard, and has become one of the world's leading experts on the connection between happiness and success. His TED talk is one of the most popular of all time with over 4 million views, and he has a new lecture airing on PBS called "The Happiness Advantage."
When my client told me about the talk, I questioned whether there would be anything new that I hadn’t already heard about happiness in my training as a therapist, but wow, was I wrong. Throughout it, I laughed out loud (Shawn’s a hoot!), but then stopped in my tracks and pondered hard on how my own level of happiness and joy are impacting my success.
The following is the interview with Shawn Anchor
What specifically impacts our happiness and how can we shift it?
The three greatest predictors of happiness are optimism (the belief your behavior will eventually matter), social connection, and how we perceive stress (as a challenge or as a threat). If we want to raise happiness we need to make both mindset and behavior shifts.
What are the five key steps that we can take each day to increase our experience of happiness?
1) Bring gratitude to mind - Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day
2) Journal - About a positive experience you’ve had recently for 2 minutes once a day
3) Exercise - Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity
4) Meditate – Watch your breath go in and out for 2 minutes a day and
5) Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness – Write a 2-minute positive email thanking a friend or colleague, or compliment someone you admire on social media
Do these steps for 21 days, and you will begin to see a lasting shift in your mindset towards more positivity.
How are you using this information to increase the success of organizations and leaders?
Happiness is a choice, but leaders and companies can make that choice easier by providing education about how to raise positivity in the workplace, creating social engagements, authentically praising individuals. My job is to use the science to convince companies to realize that the greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged workforce. Those that realize that, focus helping cultivate positive work environments which results in the happiness advantage.
What is the Happiness Advantage exactly?
Your brain works significantly better at positive than at negative, neutral or stressed. Every single business and educational outcome improves when we start at positive rather than waiting for a future success. Sales improve 37% cross-industry, productivity by 31%, you're 40% more likely to receive a promotion, nearly 10 times more engaged at work, live longer, get better grades, your symptoms are less acute, and much more.
As an expert in positive psychology, what do you know about happiness that the rest of us don't?
Genes and environment will define your happiness, UNLESS you make conscious changes to your mindset and habits. If you do the latter, your happiness will no longer remain under the tyranny of your genes, childhood and environment.
In the end, happiness is not the belief that we don't need to change. It is the belief that we can.