The Happiness Advantage

By Matt Leedham, EO’s US Membership Director

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the US West Regional Presidents Meeting in Los Angeles, which hosted 50+ entrepreneurs from the western US. To wrap up the day and half of learning, we went to a dinner event in Santa Monica, featuring a one-hour presentation by Shawn Achor, the guru of positive psychology and author of “The Happiness Advantage.”

First impression? This guy is the real deal. I had the opportunity to engage him in an interesting conversation about his adventures over the last year traveling, speaking, writing and consulting. As it turns out, he’s not only talking the talk (backed up with extensive research), but is walking the walk and can speak from experience. Shawn covered a lot of information, but here are two main things I learned:

  • We’re Doing it Wrong. Can you believe that our perception of happiness is wrong? Most people believe that if they can just achieve that goal, or get that promotion, or lose that weight, that then they’ll be happy. Shawn’s exhaustive research at Harvard and at Fortune 500 firms suggests just the opposite. The problem is that once we achieve a goal, our milestones for achievement get pushed further back because we want to achieve more. Therefore, we’re always chasing happiness. However, if you start by focusing on positivity and priming yourself to be happy, you will become more confident, successful and productive. Invest in yourself first— the ROI is worth it!
  • Activation Energy. According to Shawn’s research, even the slightest hindrance can prevent you from doing something you know you want to do. The message: Make accomplishing your goals as easy as possible. If you want to work out in the morning, wear your gym clothes to bed. If it’s reading more, put books near your favorite sitting areas or on your bed.

Likewise, you can use this trick in reverse. If you want to watch less TV, Shawn gave a great example of taking out the batteries from the remote and putting them in another room. This would mean that he would have to spend the time to go get the batteries and put them back in, which he would only do if he REALLY wanted to watch TV. In other words, the activation energy it would take to pick up a book on the coffee table was less than going into the other room to get the batteries, so he would read instead of watching TV.

Click here to learn more about The Happiness Advantage.

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