The Happiness Advantage

Recently, I was watching top rated Ted Talks, and I came across Shawn Achor’s “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” In his speech, he talked about the reversal of our happiness formula. The formula most individuals try to follow is:

Work Hard + Become Successful = Be Happy

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Instead, the success goalpost keeps getting pushed further and further. Once you achieve something, instead of becoming happy, you set a new goal. Shawn Achor’s answer to this broken formula is the Happiness Advantage, or the positive psychology that states happiness is the precursor to success that fuels performance and achievement.

In his book “The Happiness Advantage,” he outlines the seven principles of positive psychology that fuel happiness and, by extension, success and performance at work. Of the seven, I find one in particular to be the most important. That principle is Social Investment.

Social Investment: Why Social Support Is Your Single Greatest Asset

The principle of social investment states that the strength of our social bonds is not just a predictor of overall happiness, but also of our eventual career achievement, occupational success, and income. It’s even backed by an 80-year long study of 268 Harvard graduates following the group from their entrance to college to the present day. The study found that the strength of their social relationships was a greater predictor of work place happiness than any other factor.

At work, it’s not breaking news that high performing teams achieve success because the team members get along with each other. More importantly, these teams succeed because they invest in social cohesion and become more engaged, have more energy, and work better together. Having people to count on in the office or even people to talk about the latest episode of Game of Thrones actually fuels innovation, creativity, and productivity. The more socially connected employees feel to a team and the company overall, the more time they take individually to improve their own skill sets.

Social investment can be implemented organically into an organization at any time, whether it’s a startup or an enterprise. Introduce yourself to someone in the office you haven’t met. Take the new guy out for a beer. Start to build your social investment because not only will it make you happier and help you to enjoy work on a daily basis, but it will also help fuel your own individual performance and achievement.

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