-by Matt Leedham
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an event in LA, hosting 50+ entrepreneurs from the western U.S. To wrap up the day and half of learning, we went to a dinner event in Santa Monica featuring a one hour presentation by none other than Shawn Achor, the guru of positive psychology and author of “The Happiness Advantage.”
I featured Shawn in a post a few weeks ago in December and was very surprised and happy to hear that I would get to meet him in LA.
First impression? This guy is the real deal. I had the opportunity to engage him an interesting conversation about his adventures over the last year traveling, speaking, writing, and consulting. As it turns out, he’s not only talking the talk (backed up with extensive research), but is walking the walk and can speak from experience.
Shawn covered a lot of information, but here are two things I learned:
We’re Doing It Wrong. Can you believe that our perception of happiness is wrong? Most people believe that if they can just achieve that goal, or get that promotion, or lose that weight, that then they’ll be happy. Shawn’s exhaustive research at Harvard and at Fortune 500 firms suggests just the opposite. The problem is that once we achieve a goal, our milestones for achievement get pushed further back because we want to achieve more. Therefore, we’re always chasing happiness. However, if you start by focusing on positivity and priming yourself to be happy, you will become more confident, successful, and productive. Invest in yourself first – the ROI is worth it!
Activation Energy. According to Shawn’s research, even the slightest hindrance can prevent you from doing something you know you want to do. The message is, make accomplishing your goals as easy as possible. If you want to work out in the morning, wear your gym clothes to bed. If it’s reading more, put books near your favorite sitting areas or on your bed.
Likewise, use this trick in reverse. If you want to watch less TV, Shawn gave a great example of taking out the batteries of the remote and putting them in the other room. This would mean that he would have to spend the time to go get the batteries and put them in the remote, which he would only do if he REALLY wanted to watch TV. In other words, the activation energy it would take to pick up a book on the coffee table was less than going into the other room to get the remote batteries, so he would read instead of watching TV.
You can read more about ways to stay positive and increase your happiness in the first post I wrote about Shawn’s research.