How Happiness Benefits Productivity at Work

happy-face_veer_3x4Following on from my own recently published article about HAPPINESS [see PDF version here], I thought this article, written by Tamara Lechner and published on www.lifehack.org, was really apt and appropriate.

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Conventional wisdom says that if you work hard, you will become successful, and then you will be happy.  What science has proven is that happiness and optimism fuel performance and achievement.

You frequently hear “do what we love and the money will follow”. But whether you are an entrepreneur, the CEO of a publicly traded company or fresh out of college you still have bills and rent or a mortgage, perhaps a car payment or payroll and you probably pay everyone who works for you before you pay yourself so how does happiness fix that? Here are some facts that will explain it.

FACT ONE:
The better your brain is at identifying positives, the greater your chance at success.

Input comes to us in 11 million pieces of stimulus every day. Our brain doesn’t just see things like a still photo from a camera. It is tasked with interpreting and processing all the input. Our brain has to decide what focus on. Thus your reality is a choice.

The better your brain is at using its energy to focus on the positive, the greater your chance at success. But this doesn’t mean you only have happy thoughts and experiences at work. It means you can choose to interpret most input as positive.

FACT TWO:
This optimism must be rational (but for 80% of us it isn’t).

What this means is no matter how much cold calling and following up and meeting and greeting and networking if you do, if you don’t have a great product, it won’t be effective.

When you have a great product or service being happy and optimistic is the fast track way to success.

I am sure you have heard the stories of Michael Jordan not making his high school basketball team and of Thomas Edison having 10,000 unsuccessful attempts before inventing the light bulb.  The attitude here is the key. It wasn’t failure – it was one step closer to success.

Science shows that 80% of American men think that they would be in the top half of the population in their social skills. See the problem- there are only 50% in the top half but 80% think they are in the top half. This means happy people tend to overestimate their abilities and will actually have confidence in situations where they have no skills backing this confidence. Having awareness of this and calculating into decisions is vital to making accurate predictions for future success.

Do you have a FIXED MINDSET – believing you have all the skills you are ever going to have and that success relies of your current skill-set or do you have a GROWTH MINDSET (this is not the same as ignoring your weaknesses or chanting affirmations) it is a mindset that says “I may not currently have that skill but I can change through experience and application”.

FACT THREE:
It is often the perception of stress and not the actual stress that derails you.

You know it’s a vicious circle when you have so much stress that you are stressed about being stressed. The definition we use at the Chopra center for stress is what happens to you when something comes between you and something you want. The average person encounters a minimum of eight sources of stress in a day.

FIGHT OR FLIGHT happens when your body encounters stress:

  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Releases stress hormones
  • Increase in insulin
  • Decreased growth, sex hormones
  • Weakened immunity
  • Clotting of blood platelets
  • Decrease circulation to digestive tract

Long Term Exposure to Fight or Flight can lead to:

  • coronary heart disease
  • anxiety, insomnia, addictions
  • diabetes, obesity
  • premature aging
  • infections, cancer
  • heart attacks, strokes
  • digestive disturbances

FACT FOUR:
We all have a base level of happiness but it can be elevated.

It’s like our happy homoeostasis. Things like winning the lottery might temporarily change our happiness but scientific research has shown that our happiness returns to the prior level quite quickly unless we train ourselves to think differently. Nature accounts for approximately 40%, circumstances like having enough food, shelter, and not being scared for your life count for 10% and the remaining 50% is up to you.

So really quickly, here are a few simple and scientifically proven steps to becoming happier:

  1. Have a sense of purpose
  2. Feel connected to those around you
  3. Let go of the past
  4. Be authentic
  5. Have some fun
  6. Take mindful moments
  7. Be grateful

Remember, work can be a chore or work can be full of joy, the choice is always yours.

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