Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Happiness Advantage

  Last week, I came across a blog post that really struck a cord with me. It was based on a TED talk that dealt with positive psychology, how our world or 'reality' is shaped by the lens in which we see it, and how our goal-based, never-satisfied society has it all backwards.

  We all are striving to lead successful/happy lives, aren't we? This video has an interesting take on how we all can affect, and improve, our reality. Take a look at the 12 minute talk from Shawn Achor. I think it will intrigue, and encourage you; it did me.

A Few of My Take-Aways:
  • Our reality doesn't shape us, how we view our world (the lens) shapes our reality.
  •          We assume: our external world (the things we have, where we live, how much money we make, our job, the school we go to, the people around us, etc..) predicts our happiness levels.
                   When in reality: only 10% of our long term happiness is predicated on our external world. Our happiness is based on the way our brain processes the world.
  • What we are exposed to (our lens: news, tv, internet, friends), and how we react to it, shapes our levels of happiness.
  • Through our lens, our brain trains itself. Having negativity around you all the time, will only breed negativity.  After seeing constant negativity, our brains expect and look for the negative, over the positive. The alternative, surrounding ourselves in positivity and training our brains to look for the positive, is true as well.
My Greatest Take-Away:

  Our society thinks: 'if I am successful, then I will be happy.' But we all know, in reality, when we achieve a little bit of success, we just want more. So the bar is pushed a little bit higher, leaving us still-striving to reach success (and in turn, our brain never reaches happiness).

  What if we changed our mindset to: 'being happy will make me more successful'? When a person's level of positivity is raised, they reach the happiness advantage where you see improved productivity (success) across the board (intelligence rises, creativity levels rise, energy levels rise, etc...).


How do we become more POSITIVE IN THE PRESENT, and in turn, raise our levels of productivity/success?

  Believe it or not, we can train our brain to be MORE positive. We can train our brains to look for the positive, instead of the negative. Achor goes on to describe how to create lasting positive change, in a manner similar to breaking a bad habit.

For 21 consecutive days, do the following:
  • 3 Gratitudes - on a daily basis, write down three new things you're grateful for. This causes the brain to look for the positives first.
  • Journaling - write about one positive experience you've had in the past 24 hours. This allows your brain to re-live the positive!
  • Exercise - teaches your brain that your behavior matters.
  • Meditate - allows our brains to focus at the task at hand. It trains us to get away from our multitasking society.
  • Random Acts of Kindness - write one positive email/message to someone in your support network praising or thanking them.
  Is it possible that the key to success and happiness is based on the simple, old adage of the glass being half-full versus half-empty? And then, training ourselves to see the brighter side of life?

  It's obvious that each of us have a natural propensity to be more optimistic or pessimistic. And what makes us happy is specific to each individual as well. So isn't it nice to know we can make a difference, and we should look beyond what makes average person happy, and how the average person measures success? What do you think?


  1. Watched the clip last week when you posted it. Loved it. Makes a lot of sense. Thought I'd use the 21 day train the brain as a school assignment ! ( I'd do it too;))

    1. Yeah, I really like it too...makes a ton of sense. Let me know how it goes as a school assignment, that might be a good little experiment!

  2. I love this! Thanks for sharing it!