Happiness equates to success, not the other way around - Scott L

Happiness equates to success, not the other way around

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NOW here’s something for a fresh perspective.

In what is among the most popular TED Talks videos on, with almost 18 million views, psychologist Shawn Achor delivered a presentation about how people have the relationship between success and happiness all wrong.

The video, titled “The Happy Secret to Better Work,” was recorded in 2011 at TEDxBloomington, but the message remains timeless, as it is revolutionary.

“If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there,” Achor said during the final third of the 12-minute recording, after spending the first two talking about the power of perspective with captivating wit and humor.

A purveyor of “positive psychology” who has won teaching recognitions at Harvard University, Achor said his travels in different countries working with schools and companies led him to the conclusion that most people believe happiness is a product of success—a mentality that dictates effort equates to success, and that success equates to happiness, which, he posits, shouldn’t be the case.

“Every time your brain has a success, you just changed the goalpost of what success looked like,” said Achor, who’s also the CEO of the Cambridge-based consulting firm Good Think Inc. “You got good grades, now you have to get better grades.

You got into a good school and after, you get into a better one. You got a good job, now you have to get a better job.”

He adds: “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.”

Rather than shackle happiness on the achievement of a goal until the next one presents itself, Achor suggests that life be lived in the present with sustained optimism. He said choosing to be happy doesn’t only make one happy, but much more productive as well, and ultimately—you guessed it—successful.

It is what Achor calls the “happiness advantage,” a concept which he explored at length in his 2010 international best-selling book titled after the term, proposing that the brain at positive “performs significantly better” than it does in any other state, such as negative, neutral or stressed.

“Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise,” he said during his time at the TED Talks stage. “In fact, we’ve found that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive. You’re 37 percent better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis.”

And that’s not even the most interesting part of his presentation.

He said the chemical dopamine that floods into one’s system when happy also stimulates the brain’s learning centers, allowing it to be taught how to become even more positive. In short, optimism can be developed through training.

All it takes is a two-minute exercise done for 21 days in a row: List down three things you’re grateful for, and it has to be three new entries every day.

Achor asked the employees of every company he has worked for to do the drill, and the results revealed rewired brains that retained a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.

“By training your brain just like we train our bodies, what we’ve found is we can reverse the formula for happiness and success,” he said. “And in doing so, this not only create ripples of positivity but a real revolution.”

About Scott Livengood

Scott Livengood is the owner and CEO of Dewey’s Bakery, Inc., a commercial wholesale bakery with a respected national brand of ultra premium cookies and crackers.

Previously, Scott worked at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for 27 years, starting as a trainee in 1977. He was appointed President of the company in 1992, then CEO and Chairman of the Board.

Scott has served on numerous boards including the Carter Center, the Calloway School of Business and the Babcock School of Management, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

He started a new business, StoryWork International, in 2016 with Richard Stone. The signature achievement to date is LivingStories, a story-based program for improved patient experiences and outcomes in partnership with Novant Health.