The Happiness Paradox

Happiness is the secret sauce for achieving your goals, it is not the outcome of achieving them. In this blog, we explore this concept and provide a 21-day plan to re-wire your brain to be more optimistic and positive.

The Happiness Paradox

I was listening to a friend of mine the other day saying they would be happy once they had bought their house.  This reminded me of the TED Talk by Shawn Achor: ‘The Happiness Advantage’.  We regularly push our happiness further over the horizon - why have happiness as an outcome or make it dependent on achieving a target, when it should be the norm?   

To me this is the paradox that we often have.  We expect happiness to come as a result of achieving something, when in fact being happy will help you achieve your goals.  Being happy is not the result of achieving, happiness is the state that will help you achieve. 

This is not some fluffy, tree hugging viewpoint.  Happiness is like the secret sauce of high performance and innovation.  Happy employees are more productive, creative, and more innovative.  They are less constrained by fear and doubt, more willing to look for inventive ideas to help achieve their goals. 

Happiness is not a result of creativity, innovation and achieving goals, it is one of the main drivers of these.  Just take a moment to think back on a time when you were at your best. When what you were doing seemed effortless and you were able to think differently and were more productive. Tell yourself the story of that time, paying particular attention to how you felt - I am certain that your feelings, when you were at your best, were positive and provided high energy. 

Your own experiences demonstrate that your emotional state has a huge influence on how you perform and act.  Knowing this, why do we so often put off our happiness until we achieve something.  It is time to rethink our approach to happiness, to move it from the result of achieving to the driver of achieving. 

Now for the Science bit

If we consider there to be four settings for the brain: positive, neutral, negative, or stressed. Study after study has demonstrated that a positive brain consistently outperforms the negative, neutral, or stressed: 

  • The positive brain is 31% more productive
  • Prior to making a diagnosis, Doctors in a positive state are nearly three times more intelligent and creative - making a correct diagnosis 19% faster
  • Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56% 

How might we become more optimistic and happier 

Now let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be happier, less stressed, have high energy and more productivity?  So instead of putting your happiness at the end of the road, put it front and centre.  Make happiness your norm and achieve your goals. 

This all sounds great, but how do you do it?  According to research, there are five actions you can do every day for 21 days to help re-wire your brain to scan for the positives and not the negative. You can literally re-wire your brain in three weeks: 

  • Write down three new things you are grateful for every day
  • Journal about one positive thing that has happened to you during the day 
  • Exercise every day – it doesn’t have to be a 10KM run 
  • Meditation/Mindfulness - take 5 minutes a day to relax and concentrate on one thing 
  • Random act of kindness - open your email and send one email to someone in your social support network appreciating them. 

Do these small acts, every day for three weeks and you will re-wire your brain to be more positive and optimistic.