Every single relationship, business and educational outcome improves when the brain is positive first. If you cultivate happiness while in the midst of your struggles, work, at school, while unemployed or single, you increase your chances of attaining all the goals you are pursuing…including happiness.
Our society’s formula for success and happiness is broken. As Shawn Achor points out:
Happiness is not a mystery. You have to train your brain to be positive just like you work out your body. We not only need to work happy, we need to work at being happy. Try an experiment right now called the 21 Day Challenge. Pick one of the five researched habits and try it out for 21 days in a row to create a positive habit.
1. Write down three new things you are grateful for each day into a blank word document or into the free app I Journal. Research shows this will significantly improve your optimism even 6 months later, and raises your success rates significantly.
2. Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours. This is a strategy to help transform you from a task-based thinker, to a meaning based thinker who scans the world for meaning instead of endless to-dos. This dramatically increases work happiness.
3. Exercise for 10 minutes a day. This trains your brain to believe your behavior matters, which causes a cascade of success throughout the rest of the day.
4. Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out. This will help you undo the negative effects of multitasking. Research shows you get multiple tasks done faster if you do them one at a time. It also decreases stress and raises happiness.
5. Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on your team. This significantly increases your feeling of social support, which in my study at Harvard was the largest predictor of happiness for the students.
If you are having trouble getting started, at the end of my TED talk I describe how to make those habits even easier to start by managing activation energy.
If you reverse the formula, you can turn happiness into a success advantage, raising every business and educational outcome. Start by doing one of these habits. And once and for all, stop yourself and others from saying, “I’ll be happy when…” That formula is broken. But there is a better one: happiness leads to greater success.