Happiness leads to success

In this entertaining 12-minute Ted Talk , Shawn Achor explains why we need to reverse the formula for happiness and success. Most of us have been taught the formula: ‘Work hard and then you’ll be more successful and when you’re more successful, you’ll be happier.’ Achor explains why this is back-to-front and, better still, how to reverse the formula for yourself and for your work team in order to improve performance and productivity. When you’re happy, you’re more successful.

Only 25% of job success is predicted by IQ, Achor says, while 75% of job success is predicted by a person’s optimism level, social support and ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat. When you’re optimistic and happy, you’re 31% more productive than when you’re negative, neutral or stressed; happy salespeople are 37% better at sales; happy doctors are 19% faster and more accurate and reaching a correct diagnosis.

Happy brains are flooded with dopamine, which makes us happier still. Dopamine also turns on the brain’s learning centres so that we can better adapt to the changing world around us.

You can re-wire your brain, and the brains of your team members’, to work more optimistically and successfully by spending two minutes writing down three new things you’re grateful for every day for 21 consecutive days . This adapts your brain to focus on the positive before the negative.

Achor goes on to list other ways to re-wire your brain for optimism and success in just two minutes a day:

  • Writing down one positive experience you’ve had every day to allow the brain to relive it;
  • Exercising, to reinforce the fact that behaviour matters;
  • Meditating to quiet the brain and help you focus on the task at hand;
  • Writing one positive email praising or thanking someone when you first open your inbox.

Discussion questions

Do you and your team focus on the positive before the negative? Do you help your team deal with stress positively? How can you put Achor’s suggestions for re-wiring your brain for optimism and success to use personally and help your team put them to use?