The Happiness Advantage results in, well … more happiness

Shawn Achor is, for all intensive purposes, a man on a mission to make us all feel better about what we do, whether it be at home, at work or just out in the world. As the CEO of Good Think Inc., he researches and teaches about positive psychology.

This can be read from a personal standpoint, of course, but it also can be absorbed as an application to the workplace.

Here’s what Achor reports from Lyubomirsky’s Random Acts of Kindness 2005 study:

Finding a way to be happy in the present causes lasting positive change:

  • Makes us feel more secure in our jobs
  • Results in us keeping those jobs
  • Produces superior productivity
  • Makes us more resilient
  • Sees us with less burnout
  • And that means less turn-over
  • This leads to great sales volume or what ever measure you need to use
  • And BETTER products – be that students or clients or customers or employees or patients not to mention the physical ‘widgets’ we might produce.

He reached these conclusion scientifically with all kinds of facts and percentages. You can hear all the details from his very own self speaking on TED at (…/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work?…).

In a nut shell  he studied what is called ‘medical school syndrome’ at Harvard seeking to understand the lens through which doctors see the world. He concluded that if you change the lens, you change their reality. If you change the lens to one of happiness, the result is that they are involved in all of the above (well, not sales exactly, but you get the point).

First doctors were just happy to be at med school at Harvard.  Then their brain flipped it and life became all about the hassles, the conflict, the competition, the complaints.

We can probably all relate. Teachers, for example, are first thrilled to get a job and be able to teach. And then … the realities settle in. This totally explains why teachers leave the profession after just three years. OR, more sadly, it explains why teachers feel stuck, unhappy in their jobs but believe that they unable to escape to something else.

So how to change this?  How to apply it? It takes 28 days generally speaking to effect change. Emmons & McCullough 2005 study found that writing down three gratitudes each day effects a positive change. Likewise Slatcher & Pennebaker in 2006 added that journaling every day made a difference in how people viewed their lives. This when joined with Babyak et al’s study in 2000 on exercise how effects the chemical makeup of our bodies begins to make sense.  Then when you begin a routine that includes meditation as pointed out by Dweck in 2007, happiness can be yours.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

I for one just know this: when someone acknowledges me or my work, I feel happy and satisfied and energized and look for ways I can get all of that good feeling again. Remember when you first opening your yearbook back in high school. You found your picture(s) and then you found your friends’ pictures and you pointed and you laughed and maybe you read about what you were doing and you felt GOOD!

What if you could introduce the Happiness Advantage into not only your life but to those with whom you work and play? What if you could be the means to make them happy? Wouldn’t getting up in the morning (not to mention the month-end or year-end or grading period stats) be more palatable?

If you could introduce a Happy Advantage that achieves all of that, wow!

Here’s one answer: producing a book that tells your story can bring that Advantage to your life and those included in that tale. Think about it.

Who knew? Well, I did but now I can back it up with science!


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