Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work is one of my favourite TED Talks. In his hilarious, fast paced talk he explains how happiness is the key to human productivity and success.
After watching the talk several times, I went ahead and purchased his book The Happiness Advantage. Inside he discusses the 7 principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work and touches on a few practical activities anyone can do to help cultivate a happy mindset.
The Happiness Advantage
We’ve probably all had a conversation in our head that goes “Once I’m successful, then I’ll be happy”, this according to Shawn Achor is backwards. By placing happiness on the other side of success we can never truly be happy. This is because once we’ve had a success, we merely change what success looks like, pushing the goalpost further towards the horizon.
Instead happiness precedes success. If we are happy in the moment our brains become charged and we become smarter. Our brains release dopamine and serotonin which not only make us happy but activates all the learning centers in our brain. With an increase in neural connections we can learn, organise and retrieve new information quickly, enabling ourselves to think faster and more creatively.
This is the premise of The Happiness Advantage. By cultivating a happy mindset we supercharge our brains, allowing us to perform at our best and lead us to success.
Cultivating a happy mindset
There are a few activities that if performed habitually over time can help us towards cultivating a happy mindset and in turn help improve our mood and raise our levels of happiness.
Meditation helps us to slow down and clear our minds. Performed regularly it can improve our focus, make us more mindful and reduce stress and anxiety. By simply taking 5 minutes a day to close your eyes and sit with your breath will have powerful effect on your mood.
When exercising the body releases endorphins which makes us feel happy. Any physical exercise is good, whether its walking, running, playing a team sport or even dancing, they can all help improve our mood and reduce stress. In turn we also keep ourselves fit and healthy.
Simply writing down 3 things we are grateful for every day can help to improve our happiness. Training ourselves to look for the positives in our day to day will help us to notice the smaller things in life that we may often overlook. With practice we begin to increase the number opportunities for us to be happier throughout the day by learning to appreciate the little things.
Another way to practice gratitude is to write thank you emails to those who you’re grateful for. This has a knock on effect as not only will you feel happier for writing the email, but the receiver will get a boost of happiness when they read it.
Create a positive environment
Our physical environment can have a huge impact on our mood so, if you can, try to make it one that promotes happiness. Fill your offices with plants and flowers, shower your desk with pictures of loved ones, set your desktop background to a picture of cute fluffy kittens!
Work on your strengths
We all have something we’re good at and each time we practice or use a particular strength we get a burst of positivity. Whether thats playing an instrument, sport, reading, writing, baking, singing, dancing or colouring in, it doesn’t matter what it is. If you have a skill that you know you’re good at and you enjoy, make an effort to do it every day.
Focus on your happiness and success will follow
If you integrate any of these activities into your daily life not only will you become happier, you will also begin to notice how your positivity makes your more productive and opens you up to more opportunities for success.
So what will you do to help create a positive mindset to help you achieve your greatest success?
Disclosure: I have no material relationship to any brand or person mentioned in this post.