Several years ago I came across a video on TED by Shawn Achor titled “The Happy Secret to Better Work”. As a soulful entrepreneur, I’m always on the lookout for soulful business ideas and the title intrigued me. After viewing it four times, I knew this was something that I had to share with the team.
“If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.” Shawn Achor
Shawn’s studies of people in the workplace found that only 25% of their job success is predicated by their IQ. That 75% of it relates to optimism levels, social support, and their ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.
Our focus is wrong, and he tells us that it simply leads us to more unhappiness. The typical success formula of, “work harder, and you’ll be successful, then when you’re more successful you’ll be happier” simply can’t work because we’re constantly chasing happiness. , once we achieve some level of success, we move the goal and go back to chasing happiness. If happiness is on the other side of success, then we’ll never get there.
By being what I like to call Happy Now, his studies show that our brain simply performs significantly better with positive input. We get what he calls a “happiness advantage” and our energy is up, and our creativity is better – and imagine this…when we’re happy at work, we’re actually more productive.
Shawn shared with us some small changes that we could implement into our days that would create positive changes. That is just 21- days of doing each of the following action steps we could actually rewire our brain to allow it to work more optimistically, efficiently, and more successfully.
The team and I truly believe that it is important to live our happiness NOW, not sometime in the future, feeling as though we’re always chasing it. For many months now, at our weekly meeting we’ve been discussing this topic. The action plan from Shawn gave us simple steps to help us be more in the happy zone and less in the stressful zone. To be the conscious business we truly wish to be.
Each member of our team committed to working on each of the five action steps described in the video, which are as follows:
1. Write down three new things we’re grateful for each day. After just 21 days in a row, this activity trains our brain to scan the world, looking for positive things, not the negative.
2. Journal one positive thing that happened in the last 24 hours helps our brain to relive that positive experience.
3. Exercise daily; this, he tells us, teaches our brain that our behavior matters.
4. Meditate, which allows our brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we’ve created by trying to multitask and focus on the task at hand.
5. Do a random act(s) of kindness or actually conscious acts. Something as simple as praising or thanking someone daily via email.
For the last few weeks, our team has been working on these items, and at our weekly meeting, we’ve discussed our progress in making these small daily changes. The best discovery we made was that we’re all pretty great people; no, we’re not perfect but do work hard to be our best and to spread happiness to others in our work. We’ve found that the simple task of writing something daily is easier said than done sometimes, yet when we did, we felt good in doing so. We’ve learned that taking action is the key to change, and true success comes from enjoying the process.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve all shared things we’re grateful for that were more deep and heartfelt, like our family time or quiet time with our partner. Others were silly yet still things we were grateful for, like new yoga pants, electric tape, and concert experiences.
The conscious acts of kindness have reminded us to do special things for others, with no thought of receiving anything in return. We’ve donated money to help others through Kiva, bought breakfast for a veteran, helped an older person in the grocery store reach an item on a high shelf, and paid for an auto part needed by a total stranger who didn’t have cash in hand, all simply to share kindness.
We’ve collectively changed our position on happiness; we’re doing our best to be happy now, not in some distant future when we’ve accomplished something. Sure, we’ve got stress, and sometimes being happy isn’t what we really feel like being; however, I can say for myself that by simply being conscious of this and doing most of the action steps daily, I’ve noticed that when things are stressful, frustrating or even scary, they don’t stay that way as long as they use to. That my focus is actually better, my relationships with others are better, and YES, I actually do have more energy.
Being happy is a choice; like many things, it takes effort, but the reward is well worth the small amount of work it takes to get there.
Watch Shawn’s talk here and join us in being “Unaverage.”