Training2022 Keynote Recap: Happiness and Success
If someone told you happier employees translate into more success for your company, would you shake your head and roll your eyes? What if someone could offer you a research-based strategy that increases sales results by 37%? Shawn Achor opened Training Magazine’s Training2022 Conference with an entertaining and compelling keynote explaining how you can connect positive emotions and happiness with success.
Traditional Pursuit of Happiness “I will be happy when...”
Think about your mindset when it comes to living a happy life.
I will be happy when I pay off my student loans. I will be happy when I meet my sales quota. I will be happy when I land my dream job.
Shawn reminded us that our formula for success is to work harder. Every time we achieve a goal, we move the goalposts to a new goal. After you pay off your student loans, you want to pay off your credit cards. After you meet this quarter’s sales quota, you shift your focus to the next quarter. The focus on hard work seems to create more unhappy people.
If the targets keep moving, we don’t experience the happiness we should. In this traditional model, success does not yield happiness. If happiness is always on the other side of success, your brain never gets there. We need to find a new way to become happier people. We also need to create a new definition of success. What if we grew up believing that happiness fueled success and not vice versa?
This topic may be a big challenge for business leaders who, of course, are focused on KPI’s, metrics, revenue, etc. Happy employees should also be a priority, especially with the current labor shortage and great resignation we are experiencing.
The good news is that Shawn is a positive psychology researcher. He shared the results of recent studies that link positivity to business performance. These should speak to your metric-minded managers.
Improved Business Outcomes
I should tell you that Shawn squeezed in an hour’s worth of information into a half-hour, so he spoke at about a 1.5 playback speed! I have listed as many of his success stories as I could type and keep up. Check out his Ted Talk on The Happiness Advantage on YouTube for more details.
He explained that if you raise positivity in the present (as opposed to after that “I will be happy when...”), your brain will experience the “Happiness Advantage.” You perform better, creativity rises, and energy levels increase.
- Every single business outcome improves
- Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral, or stressed.
- 37% increase in sales. The greatest predictor of sales success is the optimist score.
Dopamine, which floods into your system when you’re positive, has two functions: 1) makes you happier and 2) turns on all the learning centers in your brain. Since we were at a training conference, this fact really resonated with me. If we can eliminate negative emotions and trigger the flow of dopamine at the beginning of a training video or class, we see more positive outcomes from the training.
How Do We Define Happiness in the Workplace?
In the companion breakout session “Applying the Power of Positive Psychology” with Devin Hughes, we discussed this idea in much more detail. Building on the keynote, he posed the question “How do we operationalize happiness?”
First, we defined what happiness or having a positive outlook might look like in the workplace. Terms were thrown out like respect, gratitude, joy, fun, pride, collaboration.
Successful people perform better when they feel better. This fact is especially relevant in today’s environment coming out of the pandemic with a focus on mental health and wellness, resilience, and mindfulness.
Rewire Your Brain for Happiness and Success with a Daily Practice
Devin made a very funny comparison: happiness doesn’t last, neither does deodorant, that’s why you reapply every day!
Shawn gave us five steps to retrain our brains to be more positive. He challenged us to spend two minutes a day, 21 days in a row working on these steps.
- Three items of gratitude: Spend two minutes a day writing down three things you are grateful for: big or small. A cup of coffee in a new mug. A workday with no meetings. Your dog sleeps thirty minutes later than usual. Your doctor reports that you are in good health. Start training your brain to look for the positive.
- Journal one positive experience. Spend two minutes each day writing in more detail about one positive event. Help your brain relive that experience and take the time to appreciate it. How did it feel when your boss or co-worker complimented your quarterly report? What did you talk about at family dinner?
- Exercise. Shawn explained that just 15 minutes of cardio activity is the equivalent of taking an antidepressant for the first six months. Over time, regular exercise remodels the reward system in your brain, leading to higher levels of dopamine.
- Meditation. Creating a habit of daily meditation and concentrating on your breath will help train your brain to focus on one thing at a time. Shawn also said meditation helps reduce stress levels and increase your level of happiness. Meditation is a common way to improve self-awareness, creativity, mindfulness, and patience, and to reduce negative emotions.
- Random acts of kindness. Shawn suggested a simple, positive email of thanks or praise each day. In the workplace, this action will definitely strengthen relationships and social connections. It also applies to our personal lives. We need to check in with each other and support each other. In our break-out session, Devin had all of us send a text to someone we hadn’t spoken with in a long time. Everyone at my table got an immediate response. Think of the ripple effect from all those positive activities.
Training Topics That Support Happier Employees
As I sit in these sessions, my mind goes to the training content from HSI and how we could easily curate a curriculum of courses to trigger more positive emotions in your employees. It’s a win/win if we can improve our own happiness while also driving positive business outcomes.
Any of our clients who use our Business Skills Library could immediately offer these training courses:
- Cultivating Gratitude
- Creating a Culture of Gratitude
- Emotional Intelligence
- How to Give and Receive a Compliment
- Productivity Through Praise
- Psychological Safety
- Stress Management
- Take a Deep Breath
- Work/Life Balance
- And more...
This topic works well with our whole-person approach to training. We view your employees as whole people. Much of our training content has applications beyond the workplace into their personal lives. Real-life stressors don’t stop when an employee crosses the threshold to the workplace. If we can help employees be happier in the workplace, that will likely flow into their personal lives as well. That's a good thing.
It’s funny this conference was at a Disney property...Disney, also known as the happiest place on earth! I love topics like this that apply to me in my personal life and also to my professional world. I believe our training courses can help a company be more successful while helping employees create career success, build higher incomes, and improve their own happiness. That makes me happy!