It’s time to put happiness first

“We not only need to work happy, we need to work at being happy.” (Shawn Achor)

At People Lab, we’re really passionate about Positive Psychology. In fact, all of our work in employee engagement is grounded in the theories presented by positive psychology – the notion that happiness leads to success, and not the other way round. There’s a common misconception that the opposite is true, with many people believing that the harder they work, the faster they run, or the more strict they are at sticking to the post Christmas diet, the happier they’ll be.

smileWe’ve all done it, haven’t we? We all challenge ourselves to push that little bit harder, thinking we’ll be happy with the end goal. If I don’t eat that chocolate bar, I’ll be thinner. If I stay late at the office, surely I’ll get the promotion. But the problem with this, as we understand at People Lab, is that every time we challenge ourselves in this way we’re failing to make ourselves happy.

If you’re on a strict diet and you lose the weight you want to, there’s a good chance you’ll always dream of being thinner, prettier, taller. If you work as hard as you can, stay late in the office and exhaust yourself, you’ll probably get that promotion you’re after – but then you’ll want another. So many of us push ourselves in this way to achieve one thing – happiness. Do you think that losing a dress size or getting a new job title will make you happy? Think again….

Shawn Achor is a positive psychology guru, an absolute expert in this area. His theory (and book) ”The Happiness Advantage’ explains that putting happiness before success really is the key to achievement.  In his book, Achor explains further: “Every single relationship, business and educational outcome improves when the brain is positive first. If you cultivate happiness while in the midst of your struggles, work, at school, while unemployed or single, you increase your chances of attaining all the goals you are pursuing, including happiness.”

So, where do we go from here? How do we move towards a more positive state of mind? Just over a year ago, I took part in Shawn Achor’s 21 day experiment to increase happiness. Achor claims that performing 5 simple acts each day over three weeks can help to increase happiness and help you on the way to achieving your ambitions. The effects were amazing – I genuinely felt much happier, and became genuinely grateful for the good things in my life. You can read about my experience here, in a blog I wrote to document the experiment.

Fancy trying it out yourself? I’m about to do it all again. Here’s a list of the things you’ll need to do each day during the experiment:

1/ Note 3 things that you’re grateful for.

2/ Perform a random act of kindness.

3/ Meditate.

4/ Exercise for 10 minutes.

5/ Spend a couple of minutes writing about a positive experience that occurred within the last 24 hours.

If you’re planning on giving it a go, good luck! Let us know how you get on in the comment section below.

Why not take five and watch Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk for inspiration – it’s one of our favourites! Click here to watch it.


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