Shawn Achor is one of the leading experts on Positive Psychology, looking at the connection between Happiness and Success. His TedTalk is one of the most viewed, his TV lecture has been seen by millions. He has spoken in over 50 countries and teaches for the Advanced Management Program at Wharton Business School, and collaborates on research with Yale and Columbia University. His books are a must read and so is this interview!
My Definition of Success | Successes without meaning or joy is not success. Some of the milestones and goals I had set for myself that I hit in the end barely registered to my brain because they were not linked with meaning or joy. I don’t believe success can be pre-defined, but I can say that my working philosophy is that I’m trying to reach the upper bound of my potential that I can maintain while sustaining real happiness in my life.
The difference between good and Great | I believe the greatest competitive advantage in the modern world is a positive and engaged brain. It is easy to be good while resting on your genes and environment. But to choose to create habits that are difficult and cultivate a positive mindset in a topsy turvy world, only through those two things can you become greater than your genes and your environment.
How to Maximise your Potential | This was the topic of my new book Before Happiness. I believe that to maximize your potential you must first perceive a world in which change is possible. Actually, you must mentally architect that world, not just perceive it. Positive geniuses that I respect follow this pattern: 1) they perceive that there are multiple realities in every moment, 2) they map a route to success by picking the most valuable path based upon the values of that individual, 3) they cancel the noise of doubt and fear, 4) they keep there mind on their progress and how close they are to their goal, and 5) finally they share their positive reality with others.
Daily Actions | Happiness is a work ethic. Everyday I practice some of the positive habits which I research: write down three new things I’m grateful for, journal about a positive experience for 2 minutes, meditate, exercise, and write a 2 minute positive email to a friend.
The importance of values | It comes from my study at Harvard Divinity School. There’s a passage in the New Testament where Paul writes, “No longer conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It is sometimes hard to stand up in a crooked room; I believe we must keep our values as our guiding force, but those values must be maintained and renewed by talking to people who disagree with us, with different backgrounds, by traveling and by reading constantly. As much as I can I try to eliminate the noise coming in which distracts from true learning and from creating a better world.
Habits of Positive Psychology | I try to use happiness as an advantage. If you raise your success rates your entire life, your happiness levels scientifically remain about the same. But if you cultivate a positive mindset first by practicing the habits of positive psychology, every single educational and business outcome improves.
Dealing With Doubt | The key to stopping doubt is find a way to cancel the noise. When one doubts, their brain is playing out scenarios in which they ignore past successes and is assuming that future behavior will be pointless. When I have self-doubt, I try to remember previous times that are similar to the current situation in which I was successful. Three past successes often will cancel the noise of present doubt, so keep your successes close at hand so you can remember them when you need them.
Peak Performance | I’m not always performing at my peak. But when I’m not, there are a couple main culprits: hunger, anger, loneliness or fatigue. Before making any big decision, or working on a big project, I work at ensuring that these four are satisfied.
Influences | We can pick up on negativity like second-hand smoke, you don’t even have to be the one smoking to have the negative effects. We are what we eat, but also what you listen to, who you surround yourself with, and what you watch. Keep it positive.
Useful Links |
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