Monday, February 29, 2016

The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance

We all have our sparks of hope when we have the chance to either listen or take part in an inspiring message about life.  Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Shawn Achor, author of New York Times best-selling books The Happiness Advantage (2010)  and Before Happiness (2013).  His message is that, in fact, 75% of our job and educational successes are predicted not by intelligence, but by our optimism, social support networks, and the ability to manage energy and stress in a positve way.  He goes on to claim that our optimism (the belief that your behavior matters) is a great predictor of success.  His research identifies that "it's not reality that shapes us; it's the lens through which we view things."  He goes on to say that we tend to focus on the hastles, workloads and complaints in our work.  In other words, we tend to permit our external world to predict our happiness.  Achor's claim is that we can control our happiness by acting out our optimism.
Achor goes on to share that if we can find a way to have our brains work positively in the present then our brains work more successfully as we are able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.  He has found through his research that we can actually train our brains to become more positive.  He mentions:
  • Doing 3 Gratitudes a Day for 21 days in a row which teaches our brain to scan the positive in the world and not the negative
  • Journaling about one positive experience over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.
  • Meditation teaches our brains to get over the cultural ADHD that we have been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once allowing our brains to focus on the tasks
  • Random Acts of Kindness praising or thanking someone on a regular basis
All of this creates ripples of positively to establish a culture of positive expressions.  I encourage everyone to watch and listen to Shawn Achor's Ted Talk entitled: The happy secret to better work.  Feel free to Google it.  I thought that his message spoke to not just education but all facets of life.  I know that this is not 'rocket science' yet I felt that because so much of our work involves shaping the lives of young people, we could all benefit from a refresher in practice, Right?  I hope you like it.  I did.