The tech industry has been hit hard lately, leaving many individuals feeling uncertain about their future. Facing uncertainty, it’s natural to feel worried, but there are so many things that we can’t control. Instead, we can still focus on the opportunities that are available to us, the world is wide open. I would like to share some valuable perspectives that I’ve gained from reading “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. This book delves into the idea that positive thinking and optimism can fuel success, not just in our work, but in all aspects of life. As Shawn Achor himself said: We become more successful when we are happier and more positive.
What & why the Happiness Advantage?
For years, we have been fed the idea that working hard leads to success, and ultimately, it brings happiness in return. If you wonder, why this happened, just check with yourself, if you ever think in this way:
I would be happy and thrilled if I managed to do x ( my powerful goal ).
A pattern of happiness sounds like the following :
- I’ll be happy if I get that promotion.
- I’ll be happy if I can get into a top university.
- I’ll be happy if I win this competition.
Little by little, we all believed that hard work would necessarily bring us joy and happiness. So this leads us to believe in a magic formula: If you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, you’ll be happy.
But this formula is broken, see how it made it clear that success comes first, and happiness second. However, were we happy for real each time we succeeded? Achievements bring satisfaction. We may feel that way at first, but later we realize we have more to achieve to keep us always ahead of the game. We level up and then we reboot the game, over and over again. Then each time, we push our goal further and further out. And later without even realizing it, happiness also gets pushed over the horizon.
It may come as a surprise, but happiness is actually the driving force behind achieving one’s goals. Scientific research shows that happy people are more productive, more successful, and more likely to achieve their aspirations. So, acquiring a positive brain and letting it develop and up to a point it will fuel your success in work and ultimately your life. This is YOUR happiness advantage.
Acquire a positive brain to boost your job performance
We have many things to do to acquire a positive brain. But thanks to positive psychology, we know the key thing is to shift toward an optimistic mindset and cultivate a sense of joy because of that. Given a negative situation, turning your thoughts into action can be more difficult than just saying since reality tells you immediately that you need to pay off the rent or mortgage, support your family, and other daunting tasks in life.
As an aspirational individual, looking for a new charter with an optimistic mind under an unfavorable situation and turning that into the next great chapter of your career is hands-down the most valuable skill in life. Making your own weather is an art of life, this applies to all. It’s so important for us to recognize our unique ‘Super Power’, and remember what we have achieved in the past, our journey of learning, our reflections about how we add value to others, and our contributions to the world.
Once you know your worth, start replacing any negative thoughts with more positive ones. Those approaches can help your brain stays positive in challenging circumstances. Celebrate your small successes! Every time you made a baby step, enjoy these little moments of contentment. This helps you become more productive and cultivate your overall sense of satisfaction within yourself. This is what we call ‘Capitalize on the happiness advantage’.
How to be happy & productive on the job
Not only from this book, but I’ve also heard from my real life about an interesting saying that ‘Happy people, better performance.’ Individuals who are happy at their job contribute to greater business success to their organization. Employees feel happy because of many factors. One of them being they feel productive at work, they’re working with a productive team and they’re driving greater impact thanks to this. In honor of the philosophy, positivity leads to greater productivity, there are the following 6 principles from this book can come into play :
- The Fulcrum and the Lever
As I said earlier, there’s no need to worry about things that we can’t control. As a matter of fact, it’s impossible to always have control over all circumstances. But we can always control how we ourselves perceive the world, let our mind focusing what’s manageable to us, and use this as an opportunity to create something meaningful to us. One example I knew was from someone who was laid off from his corporate job and then became a small business owner only a few months after the event. From corporate worker to entrepreneur, he created his own weather. One door closed, it just meant we needed to walk through a different door.
- The Tetris Effect
If you’ve been practicing something on a daily basis, such as playing piano, or violin or playing a video game, you will find our brains have a fantastic ability to pick up on the things that we focus on long enough. One example from the book is about a group of students playing Tetris constantly for several hours and it’s proven that they still see Tetris blocks everywhere for a period of time even after they stopped. This is also great news because of the same pattern we can leverage to train our brain to keep capitalizing on positivity and we’ll always feel grateful during any challenging times.
- Falling up
Every time we feel that we learn the most is the time that we failed. Experiencing failure could be one of the most profound moments of life, each setback gives a great opportunity to reflect, learn, and improve. An example in the book is about some companies celebrating down profit periods. Learning from their failures, they reflect on what’s to improve which eventually leads them to their next success. Failure could be a great opportunity to learn and grow which will help you succeed somewhere in the future.
- The Zoro Circle
Starting from small and minor, make more baby steps, manageable and under control, each step is the foundation that leads us closer to our aspiration. This is what I learned from the story of Zoro. The book refers to the story of a popular fictional character Zoro. Before he becomes fully awesome ( as Barney Stinson always says – from the HIMYM show ), Zoro started his training from non-countable small circles, step-by-step, then he moved on to higher levels of training. We learned that also from another book called Atomic Habits by James Clear, focusing on building a system, starting from small, driving greater results as we go.
- The 20-Second Rule
Another interesting rule from the book is about nurturing good habits and diminishing bad ones by adding 20 secs of preparation for the good ones. An example of this is to close your mailbox while you’re on a focusing task to reduce your distraction while new emails come in. Warm up for 20 secs when you’re starting a focusing task and intentionally make it pleasant. Keep doing so will make those positive behaviors more automatic!
- Social Investment
One important principle but easily left forgotten principle is social investment. Most successful people in the world prioritize the importance of social investment and devoting their time to building strong, meaningful connections. By creating those connections, they also seek their way to support and grow together with people around them, which creates a nurturing and beneficial relationship in the long run.
How to be happy in life
The happiness advantage theory also applies to all aspects of our lives. Here comes my favorite part in the book about improving our mood and raising our happiness throughout the day.
I personally like meditation and have been meditating a few times per day. It offers me a way to ‘mentally escape’ from my everyday reality, increasing my emotion control and self-reflection ability. This book also recommends this since it’s a proven pattern by neuroscientists that mediation has a lasting and profound effect on the mind by growing the left prefrontal cortex which is the part of the brain responsible for feeling happy. Furthermore, regular meditation can also help reduce stress levels while boosting immune function and rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness.
- Turn workout into part of your daily routine
The book about a group of people actually raising their endorphin levels by 27 percent by just thinking of watching their favorite movie. To make you feel happier in life, sometimes you can find something to look forward to, build a bucket list with clever fox or whatever planners filling with things that you want to do this year, such as a camping hike, a road trip, or a beach vacation. Even if it’s coming a few months later down the line. Anticipation is the most enjoyable part of the experience.
- Spend Money but not on stuff
Similar to find something to look forward to, spend money on experiences rather than material things is a way to raise the happiness level. Experiences provide lasting memories and reflections, as time goes by you only remember it since you can’t go back to that moment, and your brain makes it even more significant based on your feeling at that given moment. However spend things on material possessions that may provide temporary but the feeling is fading in signficance since your memory is getting refreshed every time you use it.
The book also introduces the notion of ‘prosocial spending’ which means the money that you spend on other people, it generates positive feelings that are more meaningful and long-lasting than material rewards such as charity donations and give away compaign (check out my give campaign here to help me support Médecins Sans Frontières )
- Leverage your signature Strength to help people
The book mentioned each time we use a skill, whatever it is, we experience a burst of positivity. Identify your signature strength that’s your value to other people, and turn that into your contribution to the world. If your strength is learning, and you enjoy learning, then write down your ideas, create your own learning resources and sharing them with other people. Harnessing your unique strengths can lead to greater overall well-being, and the more you leverage your signature strength and the happier you’ll become.
- Build your best possible social support system
This book encourages us to invite more in one of the greatest predictors of success and excellence – our social support system. This principe applies to our work but also in our lives.
A strong social support system is the source of energy behind our lives, it contains our loved ones, friends and our peers at work. Build strong, meaningful relationships is an integral part of success, and extend these relationships as part of your social support system. Practise this by making time for your loved ones.
I remember another book that I read the Compound Effect by Darren Hardy mentioned carving out a few minutes each day for your loved ones, putting consistent effort in maintaining relationships can produce strong and meaningful connections with those close to us, even if it’s just five or ten minutes here and there. Schedule some coffee catch ups, outings with your friends, gaming nights with your old buddies, coworkers, spend quality time with them and build a bi-directional nurturing social support system.
Life is not just a sum of our accomplishments but our experience the journey. How we feel is as important as what we do. Life has many things that go beyond just work, we can always find true fulfillment in the pursuit of happiness in many different ways. Regardless of the challenges we’re currently facing, remember we’re not defined by our current circumstances or a brief passage through life. Good things to know happiness and success can go hand-in-hand and and they can come together and lead our way to a fulling life as your heart’s content. And remember : We have the power to shape our own destinies.