3 Ways Happiness is a Successful Advantage: Shawn Achor Interview
It seems the ways in which we have worked towards success and happiness are backwards. The thoughts, “When I get a better job then I’ll be happy” or “I’ll be happy when I get a raise” could be the sentiments of many professionals searching for happiness in all the wrong places.
Shawn Achor, the author of best sellers The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness, winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, featured in Harvard Business Review, TED talk speaker, and founder of GoodThinkInc, has lectured all over the world to promote his findings, which illustrate how more success does not necessarily make us happier, but being happy can make us more successful over time.
In a recent and exclusive interview with The Happiness Movement, Achor answered three questions for happiness. They are:
1. Your research found that happiness builds success, which is counter to the belief that success will often make us happier. How does your research in Positive Psychology help corporate cultures find success and happiness in the workplace? Please Explain.
We often think: if I work harder, I’ll be successful, and then I’ll be happy. That formula is scientifically broken, and interferes not only with our happiness but our success rate as well. Every time you record a victory, your brain changes the goalpost of what success looks like. If you hit your sales target, managers raise your sales target. If you get a raise, now that your new baseline and you need another raise or promotion. If you raise your successes your whole life, based upon positive psychology research, your happiness will remain the same. But flip around the formula, prioritize creating a positive brain in the present, and suddenly, every single business and educational outcomes rises. The greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged brain. When I explain the statistics and benefits of positive psychology to corporations, they usually embrace support for simple habits of daily happiness hygiene.
2. In your partnership with Yale and UBS in the “Stress as Enhancing” Mindset study, you found that teaching employees how to cope with stress could lower stress and fatigue. Based on your findings, how could similar and/or future trainings help employees and employers feel less stress and be happier in the workplace? Please explain.
This ReThinkStress study with Alia Crum, Peter Salovey shows people can actually change their reaction to stress by changing the way they THINK about stress. In this study we worked with stressed employees at UBS to implement mindset changes. To help share these results, we created an online course at rethinkstress.com that shows people three simple steps to acknowledge, welcome, and incorporate stress into life. The real take-away is that we are stressed because we care. Stress is a biological response and we can use it to our advantage. When we forget that there is meaning in stress, or see stress just as a threat, we have 23% higher negative health outcomes. Stress is inevitable, its effects are not.
3. In your opinion, what would be a couple ways to achieve happiness in our professional and/or personal lives? Please Explain.
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. Pick up 1,095 Reasons to be Happy: Your Gratitude Journal and start your gratitude journal today!
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.
For more information about Shawn Achor and his new book, see GoodThinkInc