There’s a brilliant book written by Shawn Achor called “The Happiness Advantage.” Shawn takes the common idea that most of us hold, “I’ll be happy after I find success,” and flips it on it’s head. By referencing study after study, he shows that it’s actually happiness that helps us find success. Shawn says:
Happiness research brought together the results of over 200 scientific studies on nearly 275,000 people – and found that happiness leads to success in nearly every domain of our lives, including marriage, health, friendship, community involvement, creativity, and in particular, our jobs, careers, and businesses.
That’s such a powerful idea. “Happiness” makes us better at everything.
Why would that be? It turns out that happiness may exist IN ORDER TO provide access to increased creativity, problem solving skills and all other areas of inspiration. If that’s the case, we’ll want to find out how we can get to happy more consistently!
From The Happiness Advantage:
Barbara Fredrickson has termed the “Broaden and Build Theory.” Instead of narrowing our actions down to fight or flight as negative emotions do, positive ones broaden the amount of possibilities we process, making us more thoughtful, creative, and open to new ideas.
The “Broaden and Build Theory” says that positive emotions encourage us to get creative, explore, try new things and meet new people. From an evolutionary perspective, this “broadening” increased our chance of survival. For example, getting curious and exploring a landscape could lead to important future knowledge. Perhaps when an escape route was needed quickly or maybe a clean source of water was found.
In the modern world, we don’t encounter life or death dangers often, but our bodies still experience fight-or-flight when we experience stressors. It’s just how we are wired. The same thing holds true for the positive. We are wired to have expanded creativity and inspiration when we experience positive emotions.
Fight or flight is an urgent and important function of our survival. Conversely, without the urgency of our immediate survival being threatened, positive emotions expand our creative side and provide an opportunity for us to learn, grow and build relationships. Also extremely important to our survival!
Think about this when you are trying to solve a problem that requires creative thinking. Do something to invoke positive emotions and see if your creativity expands.
We created Handwrittn so that anyone can have easy access to a powerful happiness habit. Writing a card once a week is a chance to practice gratitude, write and connect with others. All are habits that can lead to long term happiness which we know “leads to success in nearly every domain of our lives.”
Next Week: We’ll be exploring the simple happiness intervention that can re-wire 84 years of pessimism!