We have a picture of the world like this, ‘I will work hard,become successful,make a lot of money and then I will be happy’. This is how our schema of the world works and we get encouraged by the society to follow this everyday. We think we become happy from what we get and who we become.
This might be right but recent research in the area of positive psychology is telling us things don’t really work that way. first, we must be happy, then we become successful. According to Shawn Achor who is the author of the new book, Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change, and whose TED Talk and article on HBR has been watched and read by millions believes we get a lot of advantage from being happy that translates into our success at work and in life.
In a recent interview with Forbes Magazine, Shawn says:
‘An optimist or a pessimist would argue whether one object, such as a glass, is half full or half empty. But by shifting one’s reality to include more true facts, you could include the pitcher of water sitting next to the glass. It doesn’t matter if the glass is empty if, in reality, you could fill it. Your brain can process only 40 bits of information per second despite a deluge of 11 million pieces of information coming from all your nerve endings. What your brain attends to becomes your reality. Based on this research, the best way to change your reality is to first realize that there are multiple realities from which you could choose. I could focus on the one failure in front of me, or spend my brain’s resources processing the two new doors of opportunity that have opened. One reality leads to paralysis, the other to positive change.’
He defines happiness as “the joy one feels striving for one’s potential.”Small mental victories, especially in a rough economy, lead us to a cascade of success based on positive changes. A positive mindset results in 23% greater energy in the midst of stress, 31% higher productivity, 37% higher levels of sales, 40% higher likelihood to be promoted, and improved our longevity.
So when you think of success this year, first think of doing things that make you happy. Shawn says: ‘The greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged brain.’
So how can you get the ‘Happiness Advantage’?Here are 3 tips from Shawn’s book.
What are your top three tips for getting yourself to a place where you can be happy?
1. Create happiness hygiene. We eat, sleep and brush our teeth everyday, yet we neglect something crucial: priming our brain to positive. Create a two minute daily habit of thinking of 3 new things you are grateful for each day, journaling about a positive experience for two minutes, meditating by watching your breath go in and out, or writing a positive 2 minute email.
2. Use success accelerants. Rats run faster at the end of the maze, and marathoners speed up at 26.1 miles at a place called the X-spot. Coffee cards where you have to get 12 stamps you get two free stamps before then buying 10 cups of coffee accelerates purchasing because your brain sees that you are already 1/6 the way through. Our brain accelerates the closer we perceive success. If you make a checklist of tasks for the day, include several things you have already accomplished. If you are starting a new positive habit, don’t start at zero, include the day or two you have successfully avoided dessert or exercise. Some companies offer 150% commission for the first week of a new sales period to show progress right from the beginning.
3. Don’t wait for happiness. If we raise your success rates, happiness remains the same. Raise happiness levels in the present, find meaning at work, connect to the people around you, perceive stress as enhancing, and your success rates rise dramatically. Happiness at work fuels success.