Author Shawn Achor says that the happiness advantage, “Asks us to be realistic about the present while maximizing our potential for the future.” I love this statement because it encourages us to realistically acknowledge our present circumstances without allowing them to predict our future ones. In other words, we do not have to put on rose-colored glasses in order to feel hopeful about the future, and — most importantly — to act on that hope to produce the results we want.
Last week, we read about Principle #1: The Happiness Advantage and Principle #2: The Fulcrum and The Lever. So let's get started. What are the first two principles Achor says can help us leverage happiness to our advantage?
- Principle No. 1: The happiness advantage? This section of the book is filled with proof that the happiest people perform best in many areas of life, and in particular, in workplace productivity. For example, people who receive positive stimuli before performing a task, complete the task better and more accurately than those who receive negative stimuli or no stimuli at all. As reported on page 47, even doctors rendered more accurate diagnoses when they receive positive stimulus (in this case, just a lollipop!) before making the diagnosis.
Another important part of this Principle is the fact that we can actually change our brains to be happier, so that we can enjoy the happiness advantage.
Page 43 reports a study showing that happier people fight off the cold virus more effectively than unhappy ones.
- Principle No. 2: The fulcrum and the lever. This principle is based on Archimedes' Formula, which says that if we have a good place to stand (the fulcrum), we can lengthen the “lever” by which we change our circumstances, and literally move further and faster toward what we want to achieve. For example, page 70 shares the story of a group of hotel maids who were told that their work burned calories like a cardio workout. After several weeks, the maids had lost weight and lowered their cholesterol more than the group of maids who were told nothing. This is proof of the “Expectancy Theory,” that by expecting a positive outcome (the fulcrum), we more effectively push the levers we need to push in order to achieve good results.
Perhaps the best news from the first few chapters of The Happiness Advantage is that people who are not “naturally happy” can “reset” their brains to take leverage the happiness advantage. This is good news for those of us who either know people who struggle with depression, or who struggle with it ourselves. Pages 50 to 56 lists several practical things you can do right now, even in the place (fulcrum) you are now sitting or standing, to improve your mood and raise your level of happiness throughout the day. Among them are meditation, exercise, and planned positive experiences.
1. Have you noticed that when you receive positive, tangible stimulus before performing a task, you perform that task more effectively? How have you noticed this?
2. Have you noticed the “Expectancy Theory” at work in your life, either positively or negatively? Have you expected a negative outcome and gotten it? Have you expected a positive outcome and gotten it? What about your behavior has contributed to both sets of circumstances?
3. How have you used meditation, exercise, planned positive experiences, and the other practical things suggested on page 50 to 56 to improve your happiness advantage?
PS – if this discussion turns you on, you might also wish to join the conversation about this “success tip” I posted at our FaceBook Page.