With winter in Minnesota and all the restrictions of the pandemic in full force, in addition to social unrest stressors, I thought it apropos to reshare a post I wrote a few years ago, about how happiness fuels success. What leader doesn’t need to get a big boost of happiness at the start of 2021 to lead their teams and to bolster their own effectiveness? I know that I need a bit of a happiness reboot after the weariness of weathering the last year. So here it is:
According to Harvard researcher and author Shawn Achor, most of us have the formula for success backwards. We think if we work hard, we will be successful and that our success will lead to happiness. Think about it. Have you ever thought happiness would follow after getting that next great job or promotion? Maybe it did briefly, but was it really lasting?
Recent discoveries in neuroscience, positive psychology, and management studies actually prove the opposite to be true. Our happiness fuels success. When we are happy, we are more productive and successful. In fact, being happy increases the levels of dopamine in our brains. And dopamine makes our brains 30% more efficient. So what does this have to do with driving performance, both our own and the performance of our teams? Quite a bit actually.
Achor explains in his 2011 Ted Talk, that only 25% of job success is predicted by IQ. The remaining 75% of job success is predicted by three key factors:
- Optimism levels
- Social Support
- Ability to see stress as a challenge, rather than a threat
So knowing that optimism levels (aka happiness) fuels success, what can you do to increase the optimism levels of your team? Achor suggests that everyone needs to start with themselves first, saying that positivity and happiness can be contagious. He outlines several practices that can help you rewire your brain’s ability to see things positively.
- 3 Gratitudes – every day for 21 days, write down 3 new things you are grateful for
- Journaling – every day write down one positive experience you’ve had in the last 24 hours (this helps your brain re-live the experience)
- Exercise – choose something you like to do each day (exercise boosts mood and performance)
- Meditation – spend just 5 minutes a day meditating, praying, or just listening to yourself breathe in and out (this helps your brain to focus)
- Conscious Acts of Kindness – write and send one positive email to a colleague each day (doing something good for someone else increases your own positivity)
This week I’m committing myself to the 3 Gratitudes and a Conscious Act of Kindness each day to increase my optimism and boost my performance. In addition, I’m consciously doing things to increase social support for myself and others around me, like cross country skiing with my neighbor (masks included), zoom happy hour with my extended family, and staying connected via text, Instagram, and Snapchat with my two adult children. I challenge you to join me! Go ahead, choose one or two strategies to increase your happiness and see what happens.