Secret to success and happiness, positive psychology

I came across this delightful and hilarious TED talk by Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think Inc, about positive psychology, happiness and success, and how we often get this wrong in our personal and professional lives. Here is the talk. Listen to it.

Here are a few factoids and observations from the talk:

  • Absence of disease is not health.
  • 90% of your long-term happiness is determined not by your external world, but by how your brain processes the world!
  • 25% of job success is predicted by IQ; 75% by your optimism level, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of threat!
  • Our general formula for success and happiness that governs our parenting and managing styles is: if I work harder I’ll be more successful, and if I am more successful, I’ll be happier. This is broken and scientifically backward, because every time your brain has a success you just change the goal post of what success looks like; e.g. you got good grades, now you have to get better grades; you got a good job, now you have to get a better job.
  • Our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, her brain experiences “happiness advantage”. If your brain is positive, it performs 31% better than if it is negative, neutral or stressed; your intelligence, creativity and your energy level rise. Every business outcome improves. So we need to reverse this formula — be positive at present so we are more successful and happier later on. Dopamine which floods the system when we are positive, makes us happier, but it also turns on all the learning centers in the brain.

Training your brain to be positive

There are ways to train your brain to become more positive. With a two-minute daily exercise for 21 days in a row, you can rewire your brain! Here is what you need to do

  • Write down three new things you’re grateful about each day.
  • Meditation: helps get over the “cultural ADHD” that we’ve created by multi-tasking. It helps our brain to focus on the task at hand.
  • Commit random acts of kindness. Praise and thank people in your network.

I heard this talk a couple of years ago first. At the time I said I would try the 21 day exercise. I didn’t. Now it’s time to do it, for real this time. If you have tried this, let me know how your experience was.

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