Turn this over in your mind – “The secret of happiness is not doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.” James Matthew Barrie’s quote nicely summarizes the message of our 17th annual holiday book, The Happiness Advantage. I recently had the pleasure of hearing author Shawn Achor speak and came away refreshed by his optimistic and insightful outlook. His talk also made me feel grateful and blessed for my childhood and for the gift of the smile I inherited from my mother.
Insisting that our traditional formula for success and happiness is broken, Achor draws on more than a decade of research to suggest ways we can raise our level of happiness. He stresses that while we’ve been taught that hard work translates into success and that success on the job breads true happiness, extensive cross-disciplinary research suggests that it may be the other way around. That is, pre-existing happiness could fuel success and increase our enjoyment and productivity at work. Why? When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, and productive at work.
By sharing stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in more than 40 countries as well as Harvard students, Achor explains how we can reprogram our brains to become more positive and ultimately improve our performance at work. I identified with his first principle, “The Happiness Advantage,” whereby he suggests that we be realistic about the present while maximizing our potential for the future. The bottom line, he says, is that happiness does not mean that all’s well and we don’t need to change a thing, but rather that we know we have the power to change. That goes for the workplace and in the rest of our lives.
In addition to reading this fascinating and empowering book, you might also want to listen to his very popular TED Talk. And, as already established, what better gift could there be this holiday season than advice on how to reap the benefits of a happier and more positive mind-set?