Thursday, May 31, 2012

Creating Lasting Positive Change

The Happiness Advantage:  
Rewiring a Student's Brain for Success   
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Harvard Researcher Shawn Achor shares    
                                    "The Happy Secret to Better Work"   
     We have long (wrongly) assumed that our external world is predictive of our happiness levels. But in fact, if I know everything about your external world, I can only predict 10% of your long-term happiness. A full 90% of your level of long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.   
    It's time we reverse the old formula for happiness and success. In the past few years, I've found that most companies and schools follow this formula for success: "If I work harder, I'll be more successful, and if I'm more successful then I'll be happier." That assumption undergirds most of our parenting, educating and managing styles. The problem is it's scientifically broken and backwards.
     Every time we have a success we change the goalposts of what success looks like. You got good grades, now you must get better grades to be happy.  You hit your sales target, now we're going to change your sales target. If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there. We think we have to be successful, then we'll be happier. But our brains work in the opposite order.  (Happiness must come first)   
     When we raise a student's
level of positivity, their brain experiences what we call "A Happiness Advantage." The brain in positive mode performs significantly better than in neutral, negative, or stressed:
- their intelligence rises
- their creativity rises
- their energy levels rise   

Meanwhile, when an educator's brain is in positive mode:
- They are 30% more productive  
- They are more resilient
- They are less likely to experience burnout
- They are less likely to quit, lowering turnover

    In short, when we find a way to become positive in the present, our brains work harder, faster, and more intelligently. Dopamine, which floods into our system when we're positive has two functions: not only does it make us happier, it turns on all the learning centers in our brain, helping  us more easily adapt to the world.  
     The great news is that we can train our brain to become more positive. In just two minutes per day done over 21 days in a row, you can rewire your brain, allowing it to work more optimistically and more successfully.
Wall of Gratitude at ACHS - Twila Knehans     In every school and company we worked with in our research, we had them write down 3 new things they were grateful for for 21 days in a row. At the end of the 21 days their brains start to retain the pattern, scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.  
     By simply doing that, we confirmed the formula of happiness 1st and success 2nd. With a focus on gratitude and hope comes happiness, and from those, we can create a real revolution.