A long-standing client recently recommended that I check out an inspiring TED talk she had just watched. It showcased how human productivity surges ahead when we’re feeling happy and positive. Given productivity gains are one of the fundamental engines for business and personal growth, I was keen to learn more.
Studies from the world of Positive Psychology show that, in relation to our long term happiness, only 10% comes from our external world. A whopping 90% of the happiness we feel comes from the way our brains process the world around us; our experiences, environments and interactions.
Typically, we think of happiness as a state of mind that comes only after we have achieved something important. Most people’s current happiness formula runs something like this: if I work harder, I’ll be more successful and if I’m more successful, I’ll be happier. The problem is that if happiness is on the other side of success, our brains never get there for anything other a fleeting feeling of joy. This is because we (and others) keep stretching our expectations and moving our goalposts. For example, when we get a new house, we want a better one, when we achieve a promotion, we work towards the next one. It’s human nature for us to strive; it’s what we do.
We think we have to be successful to be happier but our brains are wired in completely the opposite way.
If we can raise our brain’s positivity in the present, we get what psychologists term the Happiness Advantage, that is, when our brain is positive, we perform significantly better than it does when it’s negative, neutral or stressed. Our intelligence rises, our energy rises, our creativity rises, productivity rises and in fact, research shows that every business outcome improves.
Our brains, when positive, are 31% more productive than when they’re not. We’re able to work faster, harder and more intelligently. This is true across sectors and industries. For example, happy sales people were shown to have achieved 37% more sales, whilst happy doctors achieved 19% more accurate diagnoses. These are big numbers.
So what do we need to do to be more productive? Simply, reverse our happiness formula.
As we become more positive, in turn we become more creative, more intelligent, our energy rises and dopamine floods our system, which makes us happier and turns on all the learning centres in our brain; it’s a virtuous cycle.
How do we do this, both for ourselves and to help create the environment for others to excel? By training our brains to become happier. Send positive emails thanking people, praise those around us for their efforts and achievements, reflect upon and appreciate our blessings, strengths, successes and the opportunities we have in front of us. By taking this approach, we begin to reverse the old pattern, becoming happier, achieving more and becoming happier still.
Asking ourselves some key questions can help get us started;
- How much do I really want this?
- How far am I leading the way with this in my own life?
- To what extent am I role-modelling this behaviour with others?
How is my positivity in others, helping them to be more confident, happier and productive?
Let’s be clear; this does take effort and practice, as do all things in life that are worth achieving, but the payoff for us individually and for our teams is huge. So, why not give it a try?
If you would like to hear more from Nigel on this subject you can contact him below.
Nigel Jackson Executive Coach
Leading Coach Ltd
m: 07860 860 970