I think we think that happiness is something that you find or if you reach some level in a company or a school, then you’re happier. And what we’re finding is that happiness is not something that happens to you. Happiness is a work ethic. It’s something that requires our brains to train just like an athlete has to train.
In order to become happier, we actually have to focus our brains down on things that actually move us forward instead of stressing about things that are outside of our control. That doesn’t move us forward at all.
We need to change the formula for success. If we prioritize happiness, it will then raise our success rates, but it’s also something that actually requires effort. It requires training and requires us to be able to focus our attention on this.
We often think that if people get happy, they’ll stop working hard or that happy people are unintelligent. And what we're finding is just the opposite. I think it is the most counter-intuitive thing we’ve found, which is happiness actually raises an individual’s intelligence and their success rates.
We find that the happy people aren’t always the smartest people. I’ve met tons of people that are very successful and not happy, and people that are extremely intelligent and not happy. So we might assume that those two things are divorced, but now what we really realize in the science is that both of those individuals are actually underperforming what their brain is actually capable of.
And if we have more role models in our companies and schools of individuals that are positive and infect other people with that positivity rippling out through those mirror neuron networks, not only can we raise the levels of happiness and engagement in our schools and companies again, but we’ll actually raise their levels of successes as well.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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