What the Happiest People Do at Work
Of course, they're doing something they find meaningful. But what else makes them so darn positive?
They're remembering a famous ad campaign.
There are multiple realities—and happy people choose the most helpful and positive one, writes researcher Shawn Achor in his new book, Before Happiness. He likens it to the HSBC advertisement in which there were three identical photos of the back of a bald head, each bearing a different caption: STYLE, SOLDIER, SURVIVOR. What assumptions do you hold? The same goes when the boss walks into the room, Achor explains. Some of us think "stress" or "threat" or "I am powerless." "Someone who has learned to add vantage points may still see some of these descriptors, but he or she would also see additional ones, like 'human being,' 'mentor,' 'opportunity to impress' or 'key to promotion,'” Achor writes. When Achor and his colleagues trained workers to think of their stress response (pounding heart, shaky hands, etc.) as "helpful" (it increases clarity and mental toughness) instead of "harmful," they performed better at work, reported fewer psychological problems and had closer-to-optimal levels of the stress hormone cortisol.