I love my work as a mindset coach because it means I get to spend lots of time studying the mindsets of happy, successful people. One way I accomplish this is to follow the research of many experts in the exciting field of positive psychology. One of my favorite statistics to emerge from this discipline is that happy, optimistic people are 30% more likely to experience success than people who view the world through a neutral or negative lens! Shawn Achor calls this the Happiness Advantage. He claims that positive brains have a biological advantage over brains that function on neutral or negative. Now I know what you may be thinking right now…happy people just appear more successful because they view their world through rose-colored glasses and perceive situations as positive where others might not.
Performance improves and opportunities are more readily recognized if you are a happy person!
Think of the major implications of this and how differently one’s life might play out based on the lens through which they view it! By just being happy, we’ve learned that you literally boost your intelligence, creativity, and energy levels!
Well, This is great news for people who are naturally optimistic, right? But what if you’re not one of those people?
Well, I wasn’t one of those people. I came into this world with a naturally critical energy, especially critical of myself. When no one or nothing is ever good enough, it’s a challenge to remain rosy! Thankfully, I had some other things going for me. I’m also naturally very reflective and driven to learn. Plus, my mother was, and continues to be, an amazing model of optimism—but she wasn’t always this way. The house I grew up in could be a pretty stressful place. There was lot of love, but there were also lots of mouths to feed and not a lot of money to buy food. Most of my childhood, both my parents worked and we had to learn to take care of ourselves pretty quickly. When I was little, my parents also fought a lot. But somewhere along the line, my mother started to change. She became, at least to me it seemed, someone determined to enjoy and appreciate her life. So much so that when I saw the movie, Elf, with Will Farrell in a constant state of awe and wonder, I thought to myself, “Oh, my gosh, that’s my mom!” She’s now in her early seventies, and she still manages to find delight in what most people would see as the mundane every day. Through witnessing her transformation, I learned two very important things:
1) life is more fun when you’re happy, and
2) even if you’re not happy, you can get happy if choose.
Neuroscientists and positive psychologists are now proving that you can change how your brain works and how you perceive your world, and by choosing to rewire your brain for optimism, you get to experience more intelligence, more creativity, and higher energy levels that in turn bring you more of...well, whatever you want!
Happy people attract better jobs; they perform better in those jobs which leads to more promotions. Happy people often describe themselves as “lucky” when really, they are just much more aware of the opportunities that are constantly presenting to all of us but those with negative lenses don’t recognize. Happy people are more resilient and more likely and able to turn failures, and even tragedies into opportunities to better themselves. And they have tighter social networks which we all know is a strong contributing factor to longevity. And I’m barely touching on the effects happiness has on physical health!
Who wouldn’t want this?
Our country’s forefathers declared our right to pursue happiness. Their intent was good, but there’s a fundamental problem with this approach--by chasing or searching for happiness, your brain learns that happiness is something you find outside of yourself! Well, folks, I’m here to tell you that the research is in! Your levels of happiness and success have very little to do with external factors. The way your brain is wired is a much more reliable indicator of your potential to experience these states. And that wiring is in your control.
If you are not a naturally optimistic person, or if you used to be but lost it somehow along the way, consider creating some happy habits. Along with the practices I’ve described in previous posts, there are other simple things you can do each day to boost your happiness advantage. And as I’ve described, by doing so, you also increase your intelligence, creativity, and energy levels making you more effective at your job and more aware of opportunity. The more you attend to your happiness, the more successful you’ll be.
Now, I know it can be challenging to create new habits, and as you might have expected, I have strategies to help with that also. I will share that information with you in a future post along with additional happy habits you might consider adding to your daily routine. What I’d like you to walk away with today is this message: It’s time to stop pursuing happiness and start creating it!