TED talk – The happy secret to better work

Shawn Achor is the CEO of Good Think Inc., a Cambridge-based consulting firm which researches positive outliers – people who are well above average – to understand where human potential, success and happiness intersect. He is also the author of “The Happiness Advantage”.


We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk, psychologists Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.

A couple of key points to understand happiness:
  • Our external world is predictive of our happiness levels, when in reality, if [the psychologist] know everything about your external world, he can only predict 10% of your long-term happiness.
  • 90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.
  • 25% of job successes are predicted by I.Q; 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.
How to create lasting positive changes:
  • 3 gratitudes (write down things you feel grateful for)
  • Journaling (allows your brain to relive the positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours)
  • Exercise (teaches your brain that your behaviour matters)
  • Meditation (allows your brain to get over the stress created by multi-tasking and only focus on the tasks at hand)
  • Random Acts of Kindness (e.g. write positive email: praising or thanking somebody for their social support)
The happiness advantages:
  • Better secure jobs
  • Better keeping jobs
  • Superior productivity
  • More resilient
  • Less burnout
  • Less turnover
  • Greater sales

In conclusion, if we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully, as we’re able to work harder, faster and more intelligent.