This week we’ll wrap up Shawn Achor’s seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work in his book, The Happiness Advantage. Last week, we reviewed the first three. To catch up, read here.
Falling Up – Perhaps my favorite of the seven, this principle proves that resilience is paramount to happiness. No matter how many times you’re knocked down, getting up and what you make of it is what matters. There is a field of study of Post Traumatic Growth, proving the adage “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” In these studies, people report increased personal strength and self-confidence after facing a variety of personal traumas. Furthermore, successful people see opportunities to become better when they are faced with obstacles (Tweet This). Where do you fall on the optimist-pessimist spectrum?
The Zorro Circle – Limiting your focus to achievable yet increasingly more difficult goals over time can transform you into a legend, like Zorro. Really! No money back, guaranteed! I’d venture to say that one of the biggest issues many of us face is stress and anxiety about our workload, which seems to continue to increase, while resources and budgets either stay the same, or even shrink. Staying in control – or actually – thinking you have control – of what you can most definitely manage here and now, will have a directly positive result. Highly linked to emotional intelligence, this principle suggests that you take the time to write out your stresses, identifying what you have immediate control of, and then narrowing your focus on that one thing, then another (larger) thing, ever increasing to legen-wait for it-dary status. (don’t get the Barney Stinson reference? My apologies…)
The 20-Second Rule – We are creatures of habit. An interesting observation by Achor, “…if we had to make a conscious choice about every little thing we did all day, we would likely be overwhelmed by breakfast.” This principle is about choosing good habits over bad ones – and maintaining them. The kicker is, this takes work, largely because inactivity and staying the same is easier! So you must do the hard work. And sometimes the hard work takes only 20 seconds to lace up those running shoes, to fill up a glass of water instead of grabbing a bag of munchies, or in Achor’s case, simply walking to the closet where his guitar waited for him. So, even better than enduring those 20 seconds, find ways to make these good habits easier to choose. Achor bought a $2 guitar stand and set it up in the living room, instead of putting his guitar away in the closet after practicing, making his likelihood of practicing increase, therefore accomplishing his goal of playing daily. He also suggests that making your “bad” habits less convenient makes choosing the “good” habits easier. I love this, a reverse 20 second rule: He took the batteries out of his television remote, walked them 20 seconds away from his couch, and placed them in a drawer. What good habits can you make more convenient for yourself? Prepackaging healthy lunches and snacks for work? Sleeping in your gym clothes? Following this rule will add incredible value to your days and weeks, with a mere 20 second expense.
Social Investment – The final principle is potentially the most potent: relationships are our greatest asset. In the midst of crises, difficulties, challenges, stress, both at work and at home, “nothing is more crucial to our success than holding onto the people around us.” Unfortunately, many of us isolate ourselves when we feel stressed. Positive psychology studies show us that the more social support you have, the happier you are (Tweet This). And the happier you are, FIRST, the more successful you can be.
In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to #choosehappiness and explore how happiness affects employee engagement and workplace productivity. And in case you missed it the other night, please enjoy Pharrell Williams’ bizarre yet fun Grammy performance of “Happy!”