E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Achor

Gran Canaria - Risco Blanco in the SpringPositive Psychology. Goodness! How cool, and how timely, is that concept? At a time where we are constantly being bombarded by all sorts of various different news items, most of them on the negative side of things, about the global financial crisis, the need to reboot this or that other country in order to get back in shape, their own public institutions, their own business models, or their societies in general, here comes positive psychology to go and change all of that and demonstrate to all of us how we may have been holding, all along, the wrong end of the stick! Well, time to change all of that! Welcome to “The Happy Secret to Better Work“.

If you have been following this blog for a while, you would probably know by now what a big fan I am from TED Talks. Those rather inspiring, thought-provoking, mind-blowing at times, truly life transforming presentations / speeches by incredibly amazing talented folks on a wide range of topics. Well, in the last couple of weeks I have bumped into one that would fit in that profile and so much more! The beauty of this one is that it’s totally unexpected on its final outcome, and you will see what I mean shortly, and on the good side of things it’s just a bit over 12 minutes long. So rather easy to digest, pause and ponder, and even worth while watching several times! 

This particular TED Talk I’d like to spend a few minutes on today is coming from Shawn Achor under the rather suggestive title “The Happy Secret to Better Work” and in it Shawn shares plenty of insights around some interesting issues that we seem to keep neglecting and that perhaps we shouldn’t, like the dangers of measuring the average, because, according to him, that’s exactly what we are going to get: the average, instead of excellence. His views on wanting us all move the entire average up, so that we don’t just focus on our current average, is just remarkable. 

Essentially, he comes to proclaim that in order to become better at what we do and to become better at who we are, we need to focus on the lens which the brain sees the world and change that lens so that we would also be capable of changing reality, our reality. That way, by shifting that focus, we would have a great, unprecedented, opportunity to change our happiness, our education, our business. Anything. And everything.

Mind-boggling, to say the least! But it gets better as you move along through the TED Talk. What he then comes to state in rather powerful messages is how we need to shift gears into changing, or even better, reverting the formula for happiness and success with a rather simple equation: focus on the positive and not on the negative. Going away, slowly, but steadily, from that mantra we have lived on over the course of decades along the lines of “If I work harder I will be more successful, if I am more successful I am happier“. More than anything else because every time our brain hits success, you already get to change automatically that goal of success, meaning it’s already embarking on to the next piece of success. And if happiness is on the opposite side of success we will never reach that state of happiness. What we have done, according to Shawn, is “push happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society. WOW!!! I told you, mind-blowing!

But there is even more, because coming close to the end of his dissertation he mentions how what we should eventually be doing is focusing on raising everyone’s level of positiveness in the present, so that the brain would experience what it’s called a happiness advantage. Meaning that if our brain is positive it will perform significantly better than thinking neutral or negatively. Yes, I know. Think about it, it makes perfect sense, don’t you think? 

So essentially, what we would need to do in both our work and personal lives, is to find a way to become positive in the present, then our brains will work even more successfully. Doing so it will make us all happier, but it would also turn on all of our learning centers in our brain allowing us to adapt to the world in a different way and better. Much better.

Wrapping up his TED Talk presentation, Shawn proclaims that when thinking about small changes rippling outward we could surely start creating lasting positive change with a good number of very simple, yet, incredibly powerful, things to consider, such as these:

  • 3 Gratitudes
  • Journaling
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Random Acts of Kindness

No, don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil all the fun explaining much in detail each and everyone of those items I have just quoted above. Instead I would strongly encourage you all to make time (Like I said, a bit over 12 minutes…) and allow Shawn to wow you big time by watching the video, because he’s certainly going to do that, I can guarantee you! In fact, I would take things even one step further and state that Shawn’s Talk will not leave you indifferent. Rather the opposite. Forever. It will challenge you to think there is a better way out there, a way you can certainly influence right off after you finish watching the attached embedded video clip: 


Because, like he just said, by doing that not only would we be creating “ripples of positivity“, but eventually we would be creating a real revolution that we can all relate to and feel even more attached, engaged and committed to providing us all with much better quality lives, lives where fulfillment and happiness rule big time altogether over everything else! And that’s just such a fine feeling, don’t you think?

You bet! It’s already helped me think about things in a completely different manner, whether work related or on a personal level, to the point where something I was not expecting did eventually happen. Moments of happiness galore, if I can say that! WOW!! Rather liberating and incredibly re-energising to say the least… Yes, you should try it, too! 🙂

Thank you, Shawn! 

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