Shawn Achor quotes page 2
When researchers pick random volunteers and train them to be more grateful over a period of
a few weeks, they become happier and more optimistic, feel more socially connected, enjoy
better quality sleep, and even experience fewer headaches than control groups.
If you can raise somebody's level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences
what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs
significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your
creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we've found is that every single
business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your
brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You're 37 percent better at sales. Doctors are 19
percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead
of negative, neutral or stressed.
The more effort it takes us to obtain unhealthy food, the less we eat of it, and vice versa.
This is why nutritionalists recommend that we prepare healthy snacks in advance so that we
can simply pull them out of the refigerator, and why they recommend that when we do eat
junk foods, we take out a small portion, then put the rest of the bag away, well out of our
The ideal mindset isn't heedless of risk, but it does give priority to the good. Not just
that makes us happier but because that is precisely what creates more good.
In fact, if I put my hand in front of my face and look at it, area 17 in my visual cortex lights
up. Now if I close my eyes and think about my hand in front of my face, that same part of my
brain actually lights up, area 17 in my visual cortex. Which means, my brain actually can't tell
the difference between visualization and experience. So when I journal for just five minutes a
day, I'm actually doubling the amount of positive experience that I have. And then over a
period of 21 days when you do this, is what we did for the experiment, when you do this for
a period of 21 days, your brain connects the dots between these meaningful moments
creating a trajectory of meaning that pulls you through each day instead of having your
pattern be, "I got through these lists of tasks and now I'm done."
For untold generations, we have been led to believe that happiness orbited around success.
That if we work hard enough, we will be successful, and only if we are successful will we
become happy. Success was thought to be the fixed point of the work universe, with
happiness revolving around it. Now, thanks to the breakthroughs in the burgeoning field of
positive psychology, we are learning that the opposite is true. When we are happy - when
our mindset and mood are positive - we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more
successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.
It shouldn't surprise you that a national survey of 24,000 workers found that men and women
with few social ties were two to three times more likely to suffer from major depression than
people with strong social bonds.
Positive psychology researchers had finished a "meta-analysis," a study of nearly every
scientific happiness study available - over 200 studies on 275,000 people worldwide. Their
findings exactly matched the principles I was teaching - that happiness leads to success in
nearly every domain, including work, health, friendship, sociability, creativity, and energy.
A quick burst of positive emotions doesn't just broaden our cognitive capacity; it also
provides a quick and powerful antidote to stress and anxiety, which in turn improves our
focus and our ability to function at our best level.
When our brains constantly scan for and focus on the positive, we profit from three of the
most important tools available to us: happiness, gratitude, and optimism.
Waiting to be happy limits our brain's potential for success, whereas cultivating positive
brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative, and productive, which drives
performance upward. This discovery has been confirmed by thousands of scientific studies
and in my own work and research on 1,600 Harvard students and dozens of Fortune 500