Here are some key quotes and points from Shawn Achor’s best selling books Before Happiness and The Happiness Advantage as well as his Ted Talk and interview on Oprah Super Soul Sunday.
Stop waiting for happiness to happen sometime in the future – so many people, workers, parents, students think if they change what is going on in their life or achieve A, B, C then they will be happy.
We think that we have to be successful, then we will be happier. But every time we achieve goals or the brain has a success we always set new goals so the goalposts of what success looks like keep moving and happiness is always on the other side. If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there. We have pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society.
So “I have to be successful and then I will be happy” is flawed as the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, their brain experiences a “happiness advantage”, as your brain when positive performs significantly better than when negative, neutral or stressed (intelligence rises, creativity rises, energy levels rise, productivity levels rise, every business outcome improves). So if we can find a way to become more positive in the present, our brains work even more successfully.
Happiness is a choice – Scientifically, only 10% of our long term levels of happiness are based upon just the external world. 90% is based on how we process the world we find ourselves in. So if we change the lens through which we view the world, we can create greater levels of happiness.
People assume our external world is predictive of happiness. But in reality, even if we know everything about someone’s external world you can only predict 10% of their long term happiness.
The research shows- Being successful doesn’t automatically make you happier. But being happier and being more positive makes you more successful.
Choose your most valuable reality and stop the negative noise – Your brain only has limited resources to think about the world. So if your brain goes first for the negatives, there are less resources to scan the world for things we are grateful for. There are multiple realities that you could construct at every moment. Pick the most valuable reality that will help you be happier and more successful.
On Super Soul Sunday, Oprah talked about giving up the hope that the past could be different. Give up spending your brains resources focused on frustrations about the past, and start using your precious brain resources on how you can create happiness in the present.
2 things cause the human brain to accelerate – seeing the the finish line is close, and seeing how much progress we have made.
In a marathon, people run the fastest (and typically most heart attacks occur) not at the beginning but at 26.1 miles – when people see the finish line they speed up, even though they are in a fatigued state.
So instead of setting large lofty ill defined goals way off in the future, create several short term goals. So instead of trying to lose 15 lbs, just try and exercise 15 mins today. Also when you make a to do list, list some things at the top that you have already achieved. Seeing progress and having the finish line closer speeds us towards that goal.
VIDEO: Shawn Achor Ted Talk (second half from 6 mins onward)
VIDEO: Shawn Achor on Oprah Super Soul Sunday Playlist