Can you be too happy? Will positive thoughts keep you from meeting your goals? Can thinking you can do something get in your way just as effectively as the negative thoughts generated by your Gremlin—that inner critic that tells you that you aren’t good enough?
I don’t think so, and neither does Shawn Achor, a Harvard psychology researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage.
In a funny and engaging TEDX talk, Archor shares research that shows pinning our happiness on achieving a goal actually hinders our progress. Instead, it’s being happy that help us achieve our goals.
As Archor explains in an Inc. online article, this is because every time you have a success, your brain changes what success means so that happiness is always on the opposite side—meaning you never get there.
But if you increase your levels of happiness in the midst of a challenge, he says “all of your success rates rise dramatically.”
The key is feeling positive, which he says allows you to be “smarter and more creative.” In fact, “optimism was found to be the greatest predictor of entrepreneurial success because it allows your brain to perceive more possibilities.”
And if this is true for entrepreneurs, it’s true for everyone. Being positive helps you become solution-focused.
One of the arguments that I hear most often is people feel their emotions and negative perspective are outside their control. Archor says, “It is a myth that we cannot change our happiness.” While happiness may come easier to some people, it’s a possibility that everyone can achieve–if they change their behavior and mindset.
And Archor’s research confirms that changing your mindset may not be as hard as people often think. “What we found was something as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly increases your level of optimism and it holds for the next six months.”
He adds, “The research is amazing. It proves we actually can change.”
Begin by shifting your thinking from, “I will be happy when I achieve my goal” to “Being happy helps me achieve my goal.” And then look for reasons to be happy right now.
Together we can do it!