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The happy secret to better work- Shawn Achor

A review of the TED.com talk by Shawn Achor, titled 'the happy secret to better work'.
by

Cherelle Walters

on 10 March 2015

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Transcript of The happy secret to better work- Shawn Achor

What the talk is about...
Shawn Achor discusses the idea that 'happiness inspires productivity'.

He challenges the idea that the external environment is predictive of happiness-

"90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world".

Shawn outlines research regarding 'The Happiness Advantage', which is research linking happiness and success.

Description on TED.com:
We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.



TED.com Talk
Why it caught my attention...
The title of the talk caught my attention as we're always striving to do "better work" whether in academia or employment; especially as a placement student.

I was intrigued by the idea of happiness inspiring productivity and thought this theme linked very well to the topic of management.

After reading the description of the talk, I was sold by the idea that -"We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards?" - and wanted to know more.






The main argument
"We're finding it's not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time".
Weaknesses in the argument
I found it very difficult to find any criticisms in Shawn's argument as he made valuable points and had the supporting research to validate these points. Perhaps one weakness can be the one-dimensional nature of his argument as his focus is on mental state and does not discuss factors such as physical state.



Did anyone else find any other weaknesses in Shawn's argument?
The happy secret to better work

Shawn Achor
Supporting theories
What I learned...
Thank you for watching.

As always, I welcome any questions and comments.

Shawn studies "Positive Psychology" and argues that happiness is induced by our mindset and psychological thinking as appose to the situation or environment that we are in.

One of the many interesting points made by Shawn was that "small changes ripple outward", implying that if we make the small changes of thinking positively then this will have a positive effect on our external environment.

He states that happiness inspires productivity and that if we are able to find a way of becoming more positive, then our brains will work more successfully as we're able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.

Shawn's ideas and research can be applied to the working environment (he has done a lot of research in companies) as well as to personal life.
Some theories that support Shawn's argument are:

Positivity and Performance- Lom and Arbuckle, 1988:
“Happier people set higher goals for themselves”. Happiness is a good predictor of job performance.


Lyubormirsky, King & Diener 2005:
Happier people have more stable marriages, stronger immune systems, higher incomes, and more creative ideas than their less happy peers.








The two key points I have taken from Shawn's talk are that '
happiness inspires productivity'
and
'small changes ripple outward'.

I'd say I have a new outlook on how to increase productivity in the workplace, especially thinking from a manager's perspective i.e. by encouraging staff to think positively. With the ambition of having a managerial role in the future, Shawn's words of wisdom are something I'd operate by as a way of achieving high productivity in the working environment.

The University of Manchester has a Wellbeing week once a year aimed at improving motivation and happiness in staff, this includes activities such as Laughter Yoga. This is a scheme that I think other organisations should adopt, and Shawn's research proves this to have a positive benefit.

I also encouraged my colleagues and manager to watch this talk and received positive responses about the talk from them also. We had an interesting discussion and are going to do the '3 Gratitudes' test by Emmons and McCullough, 2003.
The Message...
Research
Only 25% of job successes are predicted by I.Q.,
75% of job successes
are predicted by your
optimism levels
, your
social support
and your
ability to

see stress as a challenge
instead of as a threat.

Your brain at positive is 31% more productive
than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You're 37% better at sales. Doctors are 19% faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed.

3 Gratitudes, Emmons and McCullough, 2003
- Research in companies, getting staff to write down three new things that they're grateful for for 21 days in a row resulted in their brain starting to retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.
References
Achor, S. (2010). The happiness advantage. New York: Broadway Books.

Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). The myths of happiness. New York: Penguin Press.

Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The how of happiness. London: Sphere.
Full transcript