Below are notes I took from a most outstanding talk from Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor. If ever you were sceptic about the place, importance and impact of therapeutic approaches to laughter such as Laughter Wellness or Laughter Yoga both at home and at work, rethink your position. It is an important part of your happiness toolkit. While we may think success will bring us happiness, the lab-validated truth is that happiness brings us more success. And understanding this is particularly valuable for entrepreneurs, Achor said in an interview. Business owners, he said, need to,reverse the happiness and success formula. We think if we work harder and achieve some entrepreneurial goal, then we’ll be happier. But the research is clear that every time you have a success, your brain changes what success means. So for you and for your team, if happiness is on the opposite side of success, you’ll never get there. But if you increase your levels of happiness in the midst of a challenge—in the midst of searching for investment, in the midst of a down economy—what we find is that all of your success rates rise dramatically – every business outcomes improves.
90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by your external world but by the way your brain processes the world. If you change your formula for happiness and success, you can change the way it affects reality.
Research shows that 75% of job success is defined by:
- optimism level
- social support level
- ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat
- positivity and performance (Hom and Arbuckle, 1988)
- happiness and intelligence (Estrada, Isen and Young, 1997)
If you can raise someone’s positive level in the present, then their brain experiences a happiness advantage: it will perform significantly better at that level than when it is at a negative, neutral or stressed level. Intelligence, creativity, energy levels rise, every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than at negative, neutral or stressed. You are 37% better at sales. Doctors are 19% faster and more accurate at coming with the correct diagnosis. This means that we can reverse the formula: if we can find a way of becoming positive in the present then our brain work even more successfully as we are able to work harder, faster and more intelligently. Dopamine, which floods into your system when you are positive, has two functions: not only does it make you happier, it turns on all the learning centers in your brain allowing you to adapt to the world in a different way. Here are a few ideas. If done for just 2 minutes a day for 21 days it will rewire your brain to work more optimistically and more successfully:
- Each day write 3 new things that you are grateful for (Emmons & McCulough, 2003). Your brain will start retaining a pattern of positive.
- Journaling a positive experience you have had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it (Slatcher & Pennebaker, 2006)
- Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters (Babyak et al. 2000)
- Meditation allows the brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we have been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once. It allows our brain to focus on the task at hand (Dweck, 2007)
- Random / conscious acts of kindness. Write one positive email per day, praising or thanking somebody in your social support network (Lyubomirsky, 2005)
By doing these activities, by training your brain just like you train your body, you can reverse the formula for happiness and success, and by doing so it not only creates ripples of creativity but creates a real revolution.
Read more about the teachings of Shawn Achor and the “Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work“.