The Happy Secret to Better Work

This is my favorite Ted talk I've ever watched. It's by a man named Shawn Achor and it's called The Happy Secret To Better Work (he has a book too; I look forward to reading it).

The basic idea here is that happier people are more productive and that happiness is something you cultivate, no matter where you are on your journey. In other words, happiness is not an external thing.  He goes farther to suggest that reaching our goals isn't what makes us happy long-term, rather we reach more goals long-term if we cultivate happiness along the way (my so-so summary, not his), and meanwhile we live happier lives as well. It's sort of an attitude is everything deal. Only that attitude is something that you can choose, even when crappy things happen. And that a good attitude actually helps you get more done, and often with more quality results.

This is holy grail material for me. It's like somebody put the secret of life to words. So I can't help but share.

If you start watching, you probably won't stop until the end, if this is the sort of thing that interests you. But just in case you are in a rush or something, do look toward the end when Mr. Achor suggests actions that studies have shown to increase both happiness and productivity. There's gold there.

I can vouch at least for three of the five practices he suggests: a gratitude practice, a journaling practice (especially one reflecting on a good moment of the day), and a meditation practice (in my case I do yoga). I do all three regularly and usually daily. They have, all three of them, changed my life dramatically for the better and made me a happier, steadier, person. They make me notice good things around me and within me and within others. And while some may think this means I gloss over bad stuff, I'd beg to suggest that it helps me keep bad stuff in perspective and also helps me change bad stuff by way of noticing alternatives.

And what does this do for my productivity? It allows me to shake off the inner-critic more easily and sit down with my muse and get creative stuff done, with joy.

Probably few would be surprised by a fourth practice Mr. Achor suggests: exercise. I do this too, although sometimes I slack off on it, but I didn't think it was as surprising as the others as a path towards happiness; we all know exercise makes life better, don't we?

The practice that Mr. Achor suggests that caught my interest most, probably because I don't make a conscious regular effort of it, is to dish out random acts of kindness. Certainly I've heard of the idea before, and put it to practice from time to time as well, just not consciously and regularly. I think I'm going to have to do something about that...

I wish you all happiness and productivity. And if you haven't already, invest the 12 minutes in this talk. It's well worth it.

Also too, if for some reason you've felt called to try one of these practices but never have, or maybe you feel guilty because you know you "should," but don't, why not stop beating yourself up about the whole thing. Let go of any shoulds or haven'ts and just choose one and do it already. Try a small one like jotting down your favorite part of the day before bed every night for a month. See if it does anything for you. And let me know how it goes if you try.