The Happiness Advantage

Jack Butler, Surgical Imagineer in the Department of Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, emailed me after hearing me talk about the importance of patient centeredness.

Jack wrote: “I am lucky often to be allowed to slip in and listen to the adults talking. Your insight that the various interviewees never brought up the patients – the center of our world – made me think about how do we get off track and, how do we get back on. I chose to be a happy person. It made me smarter. Enjoy this and always start with a chart.”

In Jack’s email was a link to the above video. The TEDx talk in the video is by Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think, Inc., where he researches and teaches about positive psychology.

What an entertaining and enlightening talk. I would like to share with you some of the points made.

Our positivity or negativity is the lens that our brain uses to view the world and shapes our reality. Often times we assume that the external world or successes determine our positivity or happiness.

Studies have demonstrated that if one knows everything about an individual’s external world, you can only predict the individual’s level of happiness by 10%. The vast majority of the time, the way your brain processes the world determines our level of happiness.

Studies have also shown a strong correlation of positivity leading to success.

Some of these studies suggest that whereas 25% of success is associated with intelligence or talent level, 75% is determine by positivity (Horn and Arbuckle, 1988) or happiness, optimal levels of social support, and ability to see stress as a challenge not a threat (Estrada, Isen, and Young, 1997).

Many of us, me included, have all been taught that if we work harder, we will be more successful, and, if we are more successful, we will be happier. This is likely incorrect. Continue reading

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