Best of HigherEDge, first published on June 24, 2013.
Interestingly, this post from 2013 is one of the most-read on our blog. I’m not sure if it’s because of topic or the fact that it contains a nice photo of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Still, the core message is enduring. While we can’t always control the circumstances we are in, we can control our reactions. This lesson has been even more important to me personally as I’ve worked the last 15 months to recover from a brain injury and tried to choose gratitude each day, rather than anger and frustration or sadness and a positive attitude, rather than a negative one. It’s made all the difference in the world. – Anita Rios
Ok. I have to admit that I’m not your usual Pirates of the Caribbean fan, but I do love this movie quote from Captain Jack Sparrow. Let me explain why. A few months ago, I experienced a few big disappointments. I know my natural response to those disappointments could negatively impact my team, their productivity, their confidence in me, and as a result, their service to others. (If you recall Dee Anne’s blog about mood contagion, she outlines why it is so important for leaders to maintain a positive attitude and how it impacts our service to our customers.) I used this picture and quote as a daily reminder to keep my focus on maintaining a positive attitude, even though my gut reaction was exactly the opposite. I can’t say that I was successful every day, but this daily reminder helped me to focus on what I could control: my reactions.
Shawn Achor, one of the world’s leading experts on human potential, takes this idea further in his book The Happiness Advantage. Drawing from positive psychology, Achor builds a case that positivity or happiness fuels success for ourselves, the people we lead, and our organizations. He says that, “when we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work.” He also demonstrates how this discovery has been borne out by research in neuroscience, psychology, management studies, and organizations around the world.
He outlines seven principles in his book:
- The Happiness Advantage: how happiness gives your brain and your organization the competitive edge
- The Fulcrum and the Lever: changing your performance by changing your mindset
- The Tetris Effect: training your brain to capitalize on possibility
- Falling Up: capitalizing on the downs to build upward momentum
- The Zorro Circle: how limiting your focus to small, manageable goals can expand your sphere of power
- The 20-Second Rule: how to turn bad habits into good ones by minimizing barriers to change
- Social Investment: why social support is your single greatest asset
If you’re trying to lead and excel with increased workloads, stress, and negativity or you want to build on a positive culture you have developed, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Achor’s book.
What strategies do you have for cultivating happiness and a positive attitude in yourself and others?