Happiness Advantage

How Can You Fuel Success and Performance?

Before Happiness: Research on Happy Workplaces

Every time I think the notion of “happiness” in the business world is just not taking hold, I am encouraged by new research that again points to the benefits of a happy workplace. Who can argue with increased performance, more creativity, better teamwork, higher levels of innovation, better customer service, less turnover and minimal sick leave?

To be clear, I define a happy workplace as having a fair, collaborative, open, innovative culture. It’s a place where people feel as though they can achieve their potential.

The latest research I’m referring to comes from Before Happiness, a new book from Happiness Advantage bestselling author Shawn Achor. Below are a few examples.

The Predictors of Success Assessment

In his 2007 study of 1,600 adults, Achor found there was a 0.7 correlation between perceived social support and happiness. (That’s greater than the correlation between smoking and cancer.) Following up on this data, Shawn developed three 10-question metrics that are even more predictive than previous measures for work optimism, provision of social support and positive stress management. Individuals high on provision of social support are 10 times more engaged at work and have a 40% higher likelihood of promotion over the next four years.

“Stress as Enhancing” Mindset

In partnership with Yale and UBS, this study used a three-minute video to teach employees how to view stress as enhancing—creating a 23% drop in fatigue-related health problems (headaches, backaches, fatigue) six weeks later. A one-hour training was conducted to deepen the learning. This additional training resulted in a longer duration of the “stress is enhancing” mindset.

The Happiness Dividend

In the midst of the 2009 tax season, Achor conducted a three-hour intervention describing how to reap the happiness advantage by creating a positive habit for 50% of the KPMG tax managers in New York and New Jersey. Four months later, the optimism, life satisfaction and job satisfaction of these tax managers were retested, revealing significantly elevated levels compared to the control group that had received no training. These tax managers’ reported levels of happiness moved from 22 to 27 on a 35-point scale, a 24% improvement in job and life satisfaction. This is one of the first long-term return-on-investment studies proving that happiness leads to long-term quantifiable positive change.

Achor has successfully shown us how to create a better life using three key factors: 1) how much social support we build into our lives, 2) whether we view stress as a challenge rather than a threat and 3) where we choose to focus our attention. The real beauty here is these tactics create positive outcomes not just for individuals but also within organizations of all kinds.

Capiche specializes in helping individuals, teams and organizations create an environment in which people are happy, achieve high levels of performance and create value every day. Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris to see how she can help you and your organization optimize strengths and boost performance.

Watch Shawn’s TED Talk:


“The goal of science is turning observation into prediction. The goal of business is turning prediction into profit. Thus good science means great business. If you can quantify predictors of success, it’s like adding GPS to your company as it navigates new terrain.” —Shawn Achor

Chris Cook Head Shot

About the Author

Chris Cook, CPCC, ACC

President & CEO, Capiche

Chris believes an organization with shared values and vision inspires passion and purpose in its entire workforce, creating an engaging, productive and positive environment. She helps organizations make a cultural shift that embodies these ideals, giving rise to happy customers, inspired employees and increased company profits. With 26 years of experience in marketing professional services and higher education, Chris has turned her focus to helping organizations define and live their brand. She is dedicated to leadership coaching, organizational development and marketing—with a keen focus on the importance of happiness in the workplace and positive psychology. A partner with Delivering Happiness at Work, Chris is accredited by the iOpener Institute for People and Performance, is a certified professional coach and holds a master in management. She serves as a mentor for the Sustainable Valley Technology Group and is a member of SOREDI’s TAG Team. Chris also serves on the Mt. Ashland Association Board of Directors and the Thrive Board of Directors. A volunteer with Soroptimist’s Strong Girls Strong Women program, she is an avid telemark skier and hiker.

Wednesday
30
October 2013
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This Year, Retrain Your Brain! Give Yourself the Happiness Advantage.

Why not start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen—as they happen? Then on New Year’s Eve, empty the jar and recall the year’s best moments.

This is an idea that has been floating around in one form or another for some time, and I love this idea for a specific reason. When you relive a positive event, your brain experiences the same good emotions as when the event actually occurred. And starting a habit of taking note of good things that happen retrains your brain over time to start noticing the good things when they are happening. While most of us are laser-focused on the negatives, we can refocus and start seeing the positives. And when you are seeing the positives, what more is possible for you? (Answer: A lot!)

As a family activity, encourage every member of the family to contribute at least one note per week. More if you like!

At work, do it companywide or by department, office or work group.

This new awareness will increase your happiness both at home and at work, and it will give you the happiness advantage.

The happiness advantage is what you get when you are happy. So instead of a mindset that tells you, “I’ll be happy when I lose weight, get a new job, get better at golf … ,” science has proven that it is when you are happy that you will lose weight, get a new job, get better at golf …

As an added bonus, when New Year’s comes in 2014, you can celebrate the year’s positives—with specific memories.

Cheers!

Tuesday
01
January 2013
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What You Think About is What You Think About

A Google search for gratitude + happiness yields 14,600,000 results (in .20 seconds).

Now that in itself is something that I’m grateful for AND it makes me happy. This Thanksgiving season, I explore the connection between gratitude and happiness and how to get more of both.

I’ve noticed that people tend to spend more time thinking about what goes wrong and not enough about what is going right in their lives. People in professions like tax accounting, auditing and law may be even MORE focused on the wrong – the mistakes – because that’s what they are trained and paid to do. To find the wrong and fix it.

What happens when we focus on what’s wrong more than what’s right and good in our lives? Harvard researcher Shawn Achor calls it the “Tetris Effect.” I call it “What You Think About is What You Think About.” Granted, Shawn’s title is a bit catchier, but mine is more descriptive.

Here’s the deal: 27 Harvard students were paid to play Tetris for multiple hours a day, three days in a row. For many days after, the students reported that they couldn’t stop seeing the Tetris shapes everywhere they looked, with their brains trying to re-arrange everything – from buildings and trees on the landscape to cereal boxes on the shelf in the grocery store – so that they would fit together to form a solid line so as to move on to the next level of the video game. Put simply, they couldn’t stop seeing the world as being made up of sequences of Tetris blocks!

This is caused by a normal physical process that actually changes the wiring of the brain. These new neural pathways warped the way these students viewed real-life situations. So when people are focused on something – anything – their brains adapt and hone in on those circumstances and events. A tax accountant may be terrific at her job, but when she brings her way of looking at the world home, she will miss seeing all the good in her life and may be on the road to depression. The same goes for the great attorney – terrific in court, but not so much at home where family members feel like they are participants in a deposition!

So think about what you think about. Make notes. Later this week, I’ll share some proven techniques to help you focus on the good things in life, and this will increase your happiness AND gratitude.

References

Achor, S. (2010). The happiness advantage: The seven principals of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group.

Sunday
27
November 2011
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