The happy secret to better work.

by Shawn Achor. TED Talk. 2011

Find the talk here.

In this talk, Shawn Achor, positive psychology professional, talks about how positive mental attitude influences human productivity.

First off, this is, perhaps, one of the most enjoyable TED Talks I have ever watched. It’s full of hilarious histories, which in my opinion is crucial when it comes to public speaking. And most importantly, the underlying idea of the talk actually makes sense.

So here he starts: “…positive psychology posits that if we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average…Why are some of you high above the curve in terms of intellectual, athletic, musical ability, creativity, energy levels, resiliency in the face of challenge, sense of humor? Whatever it is, instead of deleting you, what I want to do is study you. Because maybe we can glean information, not just how to move people up to the average, but move the entire average up in our companies and schools worldwide.”

(Lemme put in the best lines from the talk and sum it up in the end.)

We’re finding it’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.

90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And if we change it, if we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change the way that we can then affect reality. What we found is that only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ, 75 percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.

Every time your brain has a success, you just changed the goalpost of what success looked like. You got good grades, now you have to get better grades, you got into a good school and after you get into a better one, you got a good job, now you have to get a better job, you hit your sales target, we’re going to change it. And if happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. We’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon, as a society. And that’s because we think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier.

If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present,then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, we’ve found that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You’re 37% better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed.

If we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully as we’re able to work harder, faster and more intelligently. We need to be able to reverse this formula so we can start to see what our brains are actually capable of.Because dopamine, which floods into your system when you’re positive, has two functions. Not only does it make you happier, it turns on all of the learning centers in your brain allowing you to adapt to the world in a different way.

Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters. We find that meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we’ve been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once and allows our brains to focus on the task at hand. And finally, random acts of kindness are conscious acts of kindness.

Okay, here is the summary. POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE IS CRUCIAL FOR PRODUCTIVITY. And if you’re wondering how to actually increase your level of happiness, as Shawn says, keep recalling one positive/happy memory from the past 24 hours. Concentrating on that one positive memory will eventually lead you to the gates of optimism.

I am pretty sure you got the message of this talk from the excerpts I have provided and I hope my ghetto review helped you a bit.

Till next time,

Bilguun B.






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