Harvard University's New Study Finds A Fun Way To Become More Successful
We all want to succeed. But the tips you read probably come down to the desire to "work harder." In this article, we will explain why not success brings happiness, but happiness is the cause of success .
Sean Acor is the most popular author of the book “The Advantage of Happiness,” which he studied at Harvard for exactly that: happiness.
What is so special about Sean? His research showed that it is not success that brings happiness, but happiness is the cause of success. He did what scientists never did. Instead of removing bizarre deviations from the data, he meticulously examined them. He wanted to know that happy people do things that we don’t.
Instead of removing people who seem strange to us from the sample, we intentionally studied them. We tried to find out why while all other employees have low sales, 3-4 people show sky-high results. Or went to one of the worst socio-economic schools in Chicago, where grades are below average, and found a couple of students there whose grades are breathtakingly high. Studying these deviations, we collect bit by bit information not about how to pull up those below who are normal, but how to transfer people from average to excellent students.
Sean believes (and his research proves this): you can do something and become happier. And staying in this state will make you more successful.
I called Sean to find out what his findings were. Want more joy and success in your life? This is what Sean can say on this subject.
1) Does success bring happiness? Not. Happiness leads to success.
We all pursue success, hoping that he will make us happy:
- I will be happy if I get a promotion.
- I will be happy if they raise my salary.
- I will be happy if I lose 7 kg.
But research shows that this is not true. You reach the goal and, it seems, become happier ... but then the next major task is found.
What did Sean's study demonstrate? When you comprehend the essence and focus on happiness, then you begin to move towards success.
If we manage to persuade someone to increase their optimism or deepen their social ties, or increase the intensity of happiness received from each business or learning outcome, we will know exactly how to look for improvements. You can raise the success rate all your life, but the feeling of happiness will remain at the same level. But if you become happier and more optimistic, each of the indicators of your success will increase significantly compared to what it would be, if you are in a negative, neutral or stressful state.
MET Life has witnessed these remarkable results among happy sales people. They decided to conduct an experiment and began to hire optimists.
They hired them, even if they showed low efficiency in the aptitude test. What were the results?
It turned out that a group of optimists sold more than their pessimistic colleagues, by 19% in the first year and by 57% in the second.
How is this possible? Sean explained that mental and technical skills account for only 25% of success.
If we know the intellectual data and skill of the employee, we can only predict with 25% certainty his achievements in work. The success of his labor activity by 75% is determined not by his cleverness or level of proficiency in equipment, which we usually take into account, improve and train, but by three other large categories. This is optimism (the belief that your behavior affects the resolution of problems), social connections (how deep and voluminous your interpersonal relationships are) and how you feel about stress.
Students who want to succeed in the future should worry less about their grades and more about optimism.
Sean discovered that throwing bones can predict your income with the same accuracy as a college average. (And millionaires agree with that).
So, your well-being has a huge impact on the level of success. What is the most useful thing Sean discovered during his observations of happy anomalies?
2) Think of problems as tasks, not as threats
Sean studied bankers immediately after a massive crisis. Most of them were in deep stress. But some were happy and cheerful.
What did these guys have in common? They did not see danger in the problems, but considered them difficulties that needed to be overcome.
What did these positive exceptions do? When changes occurred in the economic or political landscape or in an educational institution, they saw this as not a threat, but an opportunity.
These people are simply created by others, and we must envy them, right? Not. Sean conducted an experiment that proved that such an attitude can be learned.
Just by showing ordinary bankers a video explaining how to see an adventure in stress, he turned the sad employees of the banks into super dealers.
We watched groups of people over the next 3-6 weeks, and what did we find? If we could make people perceive stress as an improvement, an opportunity, and not as a threat, we saw that the symptoms of stress became 23% less pronounced. This gave a noticeable growth not only in terms of happiness, but also significantly increased the level of their interaction at work.
But what if something fails to cope? There are probably more of these “features” than you need.
Should we just put an end to achieving a balance of work and personal life ? Abandon plans with friends and spend more time in the office?
And again the answer is completely opposite.
3) Doing double work means you need twice as many friends
After defending his undergraduate degree at Harvard, Sean was there as an inspector of students. He helped beginners adapt to an environment full of stress and competition.
For many students, a serious burden led them to live in the library and eat directly in their rooms so as not to interrupt their studies.
Did they perform better? Not. They ran out of steam and ended up wanting to move to another school.
Sean would tell them that they unknowingly cut themselves off from the greatest source of happiness.
People who best endure stress usually increase their social investments in the middle of a difficult period, which is the exact opposite of most of us.
When I used them in my research, it turned out that social ties are the largest source of happiness we have. When we work with indicators of social support, each time they get the upper hand over all the rest of our affairs.
What did we learn about happiness? It predicts success. And there is no contradiction.
We found that social interaction is critical to academic success.
Want to resist stress , increase productivity and get better? Then not only seek support in society, but also provide it to others.
The results of a study by the head of Wharton, Professor Adam Grant, confirm these results: people who provide social support get the most out of it.
Sean noticed this not only among his students at Harvard. He made similar recommendations to 1/3 of the Fortune 100 companies, and it worked there too.
Some of you might think: “Well, happiness will make me more successful. I got it. But how can I be happier? ”
It's easier than you think.
4) Send a thank you note every morning
It may seem to you that happiness comes only with major victories and great achievements. You are not right. Research has shown that little things are more important.
Sean believes that instead of focusing on major events such as holidays, it’s wiser to create small, sustainable habits similar to brushing your teeth.
What small business will enhance the feeling of happiness for a long time? Send a 2-minute email or thank you message right after you arrive at the office.
The simplest thing you can do is write a 2-minute laudatory or thank you note to one of your friends. We practiced it on Facebook, at US Food, and we used it at Microsoft. They wrote short letters of gratitude or praise to one person they knew, each time choosing new people, for 21 days. That's all. As a result, we found a significant increase in their social ties, which serves as the largest source of happiness in organizations. It also improved teamwork. We measured the total IQ in teams and teams working together for many years, but in both cases the results were lower than with social cohesion.
What other small daily “habits of happiness” does Sean recommend?
- Record everything that brings you pleasure.
Over 120,000 people receive my weekly mailing list. It is conducted from my current address. People can answer. And they do it.
What do readers usually want to know?
You offer wonderful things. I read all this. I agree with them. But I just can’t start making them. How can I handle this? Sean has a great answer to that.
5) Rule of 20 seconds
What keeps you from making the right changes in your life? Sean calls it "activation energy."
You know that the activation energy makes you tear yourself away from the couch and go into the hall. The hardest part is getting started.
If you reduce the amount of energy needed to activate, difficult actions will become simple. Therefore, make sure that new habits require no more than 20 seconds to prepare.
Sean would sleep in sportswear and put running shoes next to the bed. This would give him more chances to begin the exercises after waking up.
If you can reduce the preparation for a useful habit to 3-20 seconds, the likelihood that you will fulfill your plan increases significantly.
And you can use the same trick to get rid of negative traits. Watching too much TV? Just remove the batteries from the control panel. This will create a 20-second hitch and significantly reduce the number of episodes of viewing programs.
So how to combine all this? And what is the most inspiring moment of all that Sean told me about happiness and success?
Here's what we can all learn from Sean:
- Success does not bring happiness. Happiness is a source of success.
- Think of problems as opportunities, not as dangers.
- Too much work means you need more social support. And it’s better to provide it than to receive it.
- Email a 2-minute thank you note every morning.
- Use the 20 second rule to form a habit.
Some people may think that becoming happier is very difficult. Perhaps they suffer from depression. Or they saw a study that we have a “limit of happiness”, and our genetics categorically determines how much we can be happy.
Do you know what is most inspiring in Sean's words? Recent research has shown that good habits can defeat genes.
Looking at the anomalies in the diagrams, we find people who got rid of the dictatorship of genetics and the environment by consciously creating useful traits. These habits really allow them to interact with life in a more positive way. As a result, their activity is accompanied by an increase in the success rate, a decrease in the level of stress, and an increase in vitality. They achieved all this by changing their mental attitudes and habits, and thus were able to replay their genes.
Many people have come to terms with the way they were born, and with the fact that they will be like that until the end of their lives. This year they remain the same as they were in the past. I think positive psychology has shown us that this is not true.
Send a thank you note right now. It only takes a couple of minutes. And write the following tomorrow morning.
Such a habit will make you happier. And this feeling will allow you to achieve great success and deepen your relationship.
Happiness. Success. Strong relationship. What else matters?
PS We recommend another article on the topic - How to turn self-improvement into a habit ?.
Translation by Vyacheslav Davidenko, founder of MBA Consult