One night I happen to catch Shawn Achor on PBS speaking about Happiness. I learned that he wrote the book “The Happiness Advantage”. My interest was sparked and I decided to read his book. I mentioned catching Shawn’s talk on t.v. to my husband who just smiled and nodded. A few weeks later his company had Shawn as a speaker. He too, thought Shawn was a terrific speaker. I was even more convinced that I should read this book.
Shawn speaks to companies worldwide about his 7 principles of positive psychology to fuel success and performance at work. Having a minor in business, myself, and a few years working in the business environment, I understood the relationship between having more positive leadership and employees creates a more successful business. Having experience as a classroom teacher and parent, I also have an understanding that classrooms and households are much like running a business in that the teacher or caregiver is a manager/facilitator of the students/children and it is important for the children to have positive attitudes and be supportive of each other to have a successful environment (classroom or home). Shawn states, “Waiting to be happy limits our brain’s potential for success, whereas cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative, and productive, which drives performance upward.” Not only does this research help individuals and companies, but it can help parents, teachers, and students. After reading Shawn’s book and using some of his advice in my own life, I became very motivated to share this amazing research. I do highly encourage you to read the book on your own, but I realize I needed to do more than just encourage friends and family to read the book. I want to explain the principles and then give examples of how they can be used by your family and in classrooms.
The Happiness Advantage: Positive brains have a biological advantage over brains that are neutral or negative. When we train our brains (which is possible) to seek out positives in our world we create biological changes that improve our productivity and performance.
The Fulcrum and the Lever: Shawn discusses our mindset here. We can adjust our mindset to give us more control over our world. (Be sure to look at Carol Dweck’s Fixed vs. Growth Mindset on my Happiness Page.)
The Tetris Effect: When our brains get stuck in a pattern that focuses on stress, negativity, and failure, we set ourselves up to fail. This is where Shawn discusses focusing on positives in our lives will help us to see more positives and have more successful outcomes.
Falling Up: When we face difficult times our brains have different paths to help us cope. This principle shows us that failure can lead to learning and we can be lifted up out of these challenges.
The Zorro Circle: When we face an overwhelming challenge, task, or life situation our brains get hijacked by our emotions. Shawn explains that we can gain our focus by looking at the smallest circle first. Once we have managed to take on a small section of the challenge we will then be able to slowly take on bigger and bigger circles.
The 20-Second Rule: Our willpower is limited. Shawn explains that if we make a small change to help us end a bad habit or begin a new habit we will be successful.
Social Investment: Successful and Resilient people know the importance in investing and nurturing their support system of family, friends, and colleagues.
“Together, these Seven Principles helped Harvard students (and later, tens of thousands of people in the “real world”) overcome obstacles, reverse bad habits, become more efficient and productive, make the most of opportunities, conquer their most ambitious goals, and reach their fullest potential.” …Shawn Achor
I will be explaining all these principles further and sharing how I used them for myself and my children. I will also be “connecting the dots” with the terrific material from other positive psychologists and also giving information that I found very complimentary to what Shawn has discussed.