In a wildly popular TED TALK, Shawn Achor explains that a brain that is happy is 30% more effective than a brain that is negative, neutral or stressed. Put into context, this means that when you are in a happy state of mind things in your world get accomplished more efficiently and effectively. In addition to these improvements, you start to enjoy your work in a very different way. If all these things are possible with happiness, the question then becomes; what does happy look like and how do we get there?
For purposes of this discussion, happy is a place without underlying frustration or resentment. A simple concept, but not an easy place to find in the modern world. One thing is for certain; to discover happiness, each individual must make a consciousness choice to seek it out. Happiness is not something to stumble upon. It is not something that comes with a larger salary or a promotion. Finding happiness is something each one of us must actively do. It is much like building character. It is a series of small, righteous actions, repeated again and again, over an extended period of time.
When we wake up in the morning, each of us has a real opportunity. We can actively decide to make each day a good day.
Personally, I use a mantra. When my alarm goes off, before I even open my eyes, I tell myself, “Today is going to be a really good day”. This simple affirmation has the ability to have a profound psychological impact on the way my brain processes my reality. When used repeatedly, my brain actually makes cognitive changes in response to this message. A positive outlook is now my reality and I am become hardwired for happiness.
By using this mantra, I am priming my brain for success. By building this foundation for happiness into the first moments of the day, I am taking an active role in creating my reality. Through these unspoken words, I am creating a cognitive pathway in my brain to process challenges as opportunities. I have already decided today will be a good day. I have taken action to start my day with my brain in a happy place. No one is able to change my mind or take that perspective from me unless I allow it. From a neurocognitive perspective; this is very powerful stuff.
I still encounter obstacles and have difficult moments. The difference is, I do not allow those moments to define my day. Through making a commitment to having a good day, I interpret challenges as temporary occurrences. Rather than allowing these events to overshadow the good things in my life, I see them as temporary, isolated incidents. When I catch myself ruminating on difficulties or starting to focus on negative occurrences, I stop my mind from spending too much time engaged in those destructive behaviors. I refocus on the positive and move forward with my work.
Then end result is quick and efficient work. I am fully focused on the task at hand which increases focus and minimizes errors. This contributes to a positive work experience. The best part is, the happiness advantage identified by Shawn Achor is not just applicable to our professional effectiveness. By leveraging the power of happiness, we become better in our personal relationships as well. We are more attentive partners, more considerate friends, and more mindful parents.
Through making the daily decision to choose happiness, we become the type of people other people want to be around. Our quality of life improves because we bring optimistic and energy to everything we do. If you are thinking it cannot possibly be this simple, I promise you it is. And while simple is not always easy; choosing happiness is actually a very easy thing to do.