Shawn Achor’s Advice on Happiness & Shifting Your Perspective

Shawn Achor connects happiness with success as a celebrated speaker, respected researcher, and New York Times bestselling author. Read his best quotes.

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Shawn Achor - Happiness Quote

Shawn Achor connects happiness with success as a highly celebrated speaker, respected researcher, and New York Times bestselling author. He inspires people to changes their perspectives – and their lives.

We’ve been captivated by his thought-provoking work, and we can’t wait to listen to his keynote at our upcoming event, SHIFT: The Culture Conference. As we get ready for this exciting event, we’re talking a look back on some of Shawn’s greatest hits.

On shifting your perspective:

“An optimist or a pessimist would argue whether one object, such as a glass, is half full or half empty. But by shifting one’s reality to include more true facts, you could include the pitcher of water sitting next to the glass. It doesn’t matter if the glass is empty if, in reality, you could fill it.” [Forbes]

“There are multiple realities every night when you go to sleep. One of them is you didn’t accomplish everything, because you can’t. You’re actually picking a more adaptive reality. It gives you that point of meaning each day. Our brains are pattern connectors. We start to see this whole trajectory of meaning running through our life.”

“I talked to this guy who was working in Germany with a team. He started with the whole, ‘I was up until 11:00 doing this work and in the office at 4:00 AM.’ His German colleagues said, ‘If you’re working after 5:00, you were not as efficient as you should have been.’ We perceive working longer as productive. That office saw it as inefficient, that you had to work when you should be having personal time and recharging.” [Heleo]

Happiness is a work ethic. Happiness is not a mystery. You have to train your brain to be positive just like you work out your body. We not only need to work happy, we need to work at being happy.” [The Huffington Post]

Related: Arianna Huffington’s Advice on Employee Culture & Thriving in the Workplace

On the power of a positive mindset:

Research shows that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement—improves.

“People who cultivate a positive mind-set perform better in the face of challenge. I call this the ‘happiness advantage’ — every business outcome shows improvement when the brain is positive. I’ve observed this effect in my role as a researcher and lecturer in 48 countries on the connection between employee happiness and success.” [Harvard Business Review]

“We’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon, as a society. And that’s because we think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier. But our brains work in the opposite order…your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise.”

Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You’re 37% better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed.” [TED]

“If we think, ‘I will be happy only when I have a job,’ then we are putting happiness after success, which significantly decreases the chances of that person getting a job. Job interviewers, just like potential relationship partners, are looking for positive people to work with and to create a good environment. We leak optimism or pessimism through every pore.” [The Huffington Post]

“In the midst of the worst tax season in history I did a three-hour intervention at auditing and tax accounting firm KPMG, describing how to reap the happiness advantage by creating one of these positive habits. Four months later, there was a 24% improvement in job and life satisfaction. Not only is change possible, this is one of the first long-term ROI (return on investment) studies proving that happiness leads to long-term quantifiable positive change.” [CNN]

On happiness:

“If happiness comes after success, which is a moving target, the brain never gets there for very long.”

“Raise success rates, happiness flatlines. But raise levels of happiness within organizations and schools, and their success rates rise dramatically.” [Google]

“If you cultivate happiness while in the midst of your struggles, work, at school, while unemployed or single, you increase your chances of attaining all the goals you are pursuing…including happiness.” [Psychology Today]

“Happiness is NOT the belief that everything is great, happiness is the belief that change is possible. In Before Happiness I define happiness as “the joy one feels striving for one’s potential.” Small mental victories, especially in a rough economy, led us to a cascade of success based on positive changes. A positive mindset results in 23% greater energy in the midst of stress, 31% higher productivity, 37% higher levels of sales, 40% higher likelihood to be promoted, and improved our longevity.” [Forbes]

Only 10 percent of our long-term happiness is predicted by the external world; 90 percent of our long-term happiness is thus how our brain processes the external world. This is why we find people at the same job who are positive and love their work, and others see it as drudgery and stress. This is why some people love being single and others cannot stand it. The external world does not predict your happiness, which is a freeing scientific realization about how much control you actually have over your happiness.” [The Huffington Post]

Related: How Company Culture is Directly Linked to Employee Productivity

On creating positive change in other people:

“Fascinating new research shows that when just one person on a team appeals to emotion and highlights meaning in specific, positive ways, it can raise the team’s revenue by as much as 700 percent. One of the best ways to plant a positive reality is to construct a narrative around some shared emotional experience, positive or negative.”

“What’s more, research from Wharton Business School shows that positive inception works best when it comes from someone other than the team leader—in other words, anyone, with any role or title, can create positive inception if he or she appeals to value and meaning.” [SUCCESS]

“Our brains have been designed to be wirelessly connected through a mirror neuron network. What that means for you is not only are you wirelessly connected to other people, but you don’t process the world; we co-process the world with other people.”

Small changes you make in your life can actually activate others to let out that inner optimist and allow the entire society to move in a place where we can feel like it’s okay to be positive.” [OWN]

“Through a study involving 11,000 hospital employees over six months, it was found that smiling, making eye contact and simply saying hello within 10 feet of another person increased the hospital’s patient satisfaction, the doctors’ job satisfaction, and the likelihood to refer the hospital to others. This is because of the way neurons function in our body, lighting up at the receipt of a friendly gesture, telling our brains to smile when someone smiles at us and spreading the joy all around.” [The Huffington Post]

The best leaders give their employees the space and time to let moments of social connection develop on their own. So the more physical spaces available to publicly commune, the better. When a CEO of one company saw that some of the best social connections—people laughing, swapping stories about their weekend, bounding ideas off one another—were taking place in the stairwells, he actually expanded the stairways and put coffee machines on the landings to encourage this practice.” [SUCCESS]

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