Contrary to conventional wisdom, experts like Shawn Achor have proved that happiness increases productivity and fuels success. A happy state of mind can ensure your team is more productive and this has been borne out by rigourous research in psychology and neuroscience. This is because when happy, the brain is more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic and resilient.
Science has given us tried and tested methods of increasing our happiness quotient and 10 such methods were recently highlighted in an article that appeared on Creator Course. A few of them are summarized below:
- The 7 minute exercise – so you think that exercise was something you did not have time for. But just 7 minutes of exercise can have a profound effect on your happiness. Most people connect exercise with losing weight and looking good. While that may definitely be an off shoot of exercise, the key point is that it can help you relax, increase your brain power and improve your body image, even if you do not lose weight. Scientifically stated, the exercise process releases endorphins in your brain. These have
a protective and reparative element to your memory neurons and act as a reset switch.
- More sleep = More positivity – Science has shown that sleep not only helps our body recover from the stress and strain of the day, but also plays a critical role in our happiness quotient. The reason for this is the process centres in the brain for positive and negative thoughts. Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories gets processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, yet recall gloomy memories just fine. And we all know that positive happy people deliver much more than those with negative thoughts.
- Get outdoors – Shawn Achor strongly recommends spending time outside in fresh air. Just 20 minutes outside in good weather will not only boost positive mind but also broadens thinking and working memory. In the crazy world that we live in, 20 minutes is short enough a time that we can fit into our lives.
- Do good, help others – research has shown that helping others – with money or
time – boosts happiness. Called “prosocial spending” , people have consistently displayed greater happiness when they have made an impact on someone else’s life. Wharton School of Business professor Adam Grant states in his book “Give and Take” that there is a direct co-relation between helping others and success. In addition he puts forward two simple rules that can aid you in your cause without imposing a strain on you. He calls these:
- The Five Minute Favour – the best tip Adam gives is to invest at least 5 minutes a day in doing someone (even a stranger) some good. In that way a small commitment by you could yield a large benefit to someone else. Connect people who can benefit from the association, retweet someone, provide a solution online to people seeking answers…all of these takes very little time but helps others.
- The 100 hour rule – in one year you should aim at investing 100 hours in helping others. This helps in you not getting stressed or overloaded and yet is of immense importance to others who receive your help.
- Smile, it will make you happy – A study by Michigan State University states that smile along with positive thoughts will be very effective in boosting your spirits. This study showed customer service workers who faked their smile while having negative thoughts worsen their mood and withdraw from work. According to studies smiling can improve our attention and helps us perform better on cognitive tasks by “increasing our attentional flexibility and ability to think holistically”.
- Spend time with family and friends – Dan Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard University, explains that almost all the other things we think make us happy
are actually just ways of getting more family and friends. Even for introverts, social time is highly valuable when it comes to improving happiness. Another study published in the Journal of Socio-Economics highlights research data that increase in social involvements brings in a lot more happiness than increase in remuneration and this, in turn, motivates people to do more.
- Meditate and rewire your brain for happiness – a research study by the Massachusetts General Hospital reinforces the fact that meditation helps you keep calm, increase focus, clarity and attention span and, more importantly, increase happiness. Continuous meditation can permanently rewire your brain to raise the levels of happiness.
- Practice gratitude – Many people may scoff at this idea, but practicing gratitude is a seemingly simple strategy to achieve happiness. Studies suggest that a conscious focus on showing gratitude to others when they help you has direct emotional and interpersonal benefits – both of which greatly enhance team work and productivity.
So, take a leaf out of the vast work in science and get yourself and your team in a happy state of mind. You will notice that, consequently, your team will perform better and your business success will not be far behind.