After hearing positive psychology expert Shawn Achor deliver his keynote on the Happiness Advantage at a recent conference, our team set out to test one of his techniques for creating lasting positive change. During the month of June we challenged ourselves to write down three new things we were grateful for each day to see if we could rewire our brains for greater optimism and benefit from a boost of happiness.
The Happiness Advantage: Happiness Is One of the Greatest Competitive Advantages in the Modern Economy
According to Shawn, happiness is one of the greatest competitive advantages in the modern economy. Those who are happy experience 31% higher productivity, 37% higher sales, 3x greater creativity and 23% fewer fatigue symptoms. Happy people are also up to 10x more engaged, 40% more likely to receive a promotion, and 39% more likely to live to age 94. If you haven’t already seen it, check out Shawn’s popular TED Talk: The happy secret to better work.
Yes, happiness pays off! Yet, unfortunately, our brains are trained to spot the negative — we focus on mistakes, failures and criticism, which weakens our ability to process and see the positive. The good news is we can re-train our brains! With practice and repetition, we can reprogram ourselves to change how we filter, interpret and react to the world. By actively finding ways to practice gratitude, joy and social connection, our brains will retain a pattern of scanning the world for the positive first rather than the negative.
Inspired by Shawn Achor, Our Team Did a “3 Gratitude” Challenge
Our team recently took on the “3 Gratitudes” challenge: we wrote down three new things we were grateful for each day for 21 days to see if we could rewire our brains and perhaps get a boost of happiness. Afterwards, we each answered one question – How does gratitude help you at work?
Whether taking time to consider what we were grateful for in our personal lives, expressing gratitude to a co-worker, or receiving gratitude and praise from others, we all benefited from taking just a few minutes out of our day to stop and experience gratitude. Some common themes we experienced were feeling calm, re-energized, and more ready to tackle the day; the ability to see things more clearly, feeling grounded, seeing opportunities rather than limitations; and the joy of spreading positivity to others. Hmmm… sounds like we just generated a “Happiness Advantage!”
Before checking your inbox, hit the pause button each day to stop and do your 3 Gratitudes – or try another one of Shawn’s daily happiness exercises (see graphic below). It just might create a positive ripple effect. And couldn’t we all benefit from more happiness and positivity!