Recognise This! – We can train our brains for positivity, not negativity. And when we do, our brains function 30% more effectively, changing the formula for success.

I enjoy Ted Talks. This most recent one is no exception. Given by Shawn Achor (with high energy and great good humour), “The Happiness Advantage: Research Linking Happiness and Science” unpacks how our brain works (much better on positivity than negativity) and how we change the formula for success to make our brains work better.

Click through for the video, and my favorite excerpts below (all excerpts are quotations):

Moving Beyond the Cult of the Average

If I ask the question, “How fast can a child learn to read in a classroom?”, science changes the question to how fast can the average child learn to read in the classroom, so we tailor the class to the average. If you fall [outside the average], our goal is to make you normal again. But normal is merely average. What I posit and what positive psychology posits is that if we study what is merely average, then we remain merely average.

Instead of deleting the positive outliers, I ask why. Why are some of you so far above the curve in whatever category? I don’t want to delete you, I want to study you, so we can move the entire average up.

Perception Is Reality, So Change Your Perception

It’s not reality that shapes us, it’s the lens through which the brain views the world that shapes your reality. If we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single business and educational outcome at the same time…

We assume that the external world is predictive of our happiness levels. In reality, if I know everything of your external world, I can only predict 10% of your happiness. 90% of your long term happiness is predicted not by your external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And if we change it, if we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change the way we can then affect reality.

Reverse the Formula for Success and Get “The Happiness Advantage”

Most companies and schools follow a formula for success: If I work harder, I’ll be more successful. If I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier. This under-girds our parenting styles, our management styles the way we motivate our behaviour. The problem is it’s scientifically broken and backwards. Every time your brain has a success, you just change the goal post for success…

The real problem is our brain works in the opposite order. If you can raise someone’s positivity in the present, then your brain experiences what we call “the happiness advantage,” which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises… Every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31% more effective than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed…

This means we can reverse the formula. If we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains work more successfully.

Train Your Brain for Positivity

There are ways you can train your brain to become more positive. In two minutes, done 21 days in a row, we can actually rewire your brain, allowing your brain to work more optimistically and successfully. We found in companies that where we asked people [do these things], at the end of that, their brain retains a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but the positive first.

By doing these activities, by training your brain, just like we train our bodies, we found we can reverse the formula for happiness and success, and in doing so, not only create ripples of positivity, but create a real revolution.

Question: Are you more focused on the positive or does your brain typically function from a place of “negative, neutral or stressed?”

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