Happiness Leads to Better Work

It seems that doing better work is tied to your level of happiness. If that statement causes you unhappiness, read on before you give up.

Shawn Anchor gave a TED talk in which he helps us understand that our outlook on life actually determines the quality of work we do. You can watch the video here. He explains that the typical mental model is that our external world is what defines our happiness.

The formula would go something like this: “If I work harder I’ll be more successful. And if I’m more successful I’ll be happier.” The problem is every time you hit a success the bar is raised even higher making “happiness” an unreachable goal.

We have to change the equation. We need to let our happiness inform our work.

He calls it becoming “positive in the present.” Those that develop this ability experience a “happiness advantage.”

And it is an advantage! The research tells us that the brain performs significantly better when it is “positive in the present” than when it is “negative.”

  •  Intelligence rises.
  • Creativity rises.
  • Energy levels rise.

The brain is 31% more productive when the positive switch is on compared to when it is negative, neutral or stressed. Dopamine floods our system causing us to feel happier while it turns on all the learning centers in our brain.

So maybe you want to be happier just for happiness sake with the side benefit of working better? Here are five things Anchor says we can do to create lasting positive changes:

  1. 3 Gratitudes. He says 2 minutes for 21 straight days where each day you list 3 new things you are grateful for will change the way you view things.
  2. Journal 1 positive thing that you have experienced within the past 24 hours.
  3. Exercise. A healthier you is a happier you.
  4. Meditate on the task at hand. Instead of thinking about or worrying about many things be present to one thing.
  5. Random acts of kindness. He suggests doing simply things like writing one positive e-mail to someone in your networks.

The Apostle Paul said to “give thanks in everything.” Give it a try. You’ll be happier if you do. And you may find yourself working better too.

Question: How have you noticed your work improving in your happiest times?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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