I had the great fortune to hear Shawn Achor speak to a group of non-profit executives, board members and staff at a conference today. For those who don’t know his work, here’s his TED Talk, which is not only my all-time favorite TED talk, but my wife’s favorite, and even my daughter’s favorite. It’s only 12 minutes. Watch it if you haven’t:
Achor’s work is focused around the science of happiness, and there are a few key lessons that, even if you don’t watch the excellent TED talk, you need to know:
- Happiness isn’t pleasure. It’s the joy you feel when you are moving toward your potential. Pleasure may breed complacency, but joy breeds creative growth.
- Happiness isn’t a by-product of success, but it’s foundation. We get it wrong by saying when we achieve x, then we’ll be happy, because our brains will keep resetting the bar for success so that we’ll never achieve it. Instead, there is a large body of research that shows that success, in almost any way you define it, comes more readily as an outgrowth of happiness, meaning happiness is good for business as well as good for the soul.
- We are socially connected creatures, down to our neurons, meaning that happiness is a choice, but not one we make individually; it’s one we make together.
- We are shaped by our surroundings. If we are surrounded by dreariness, sadness or negativity, it will shape how we see the world.
- But the opposite is true, too. We can shape our framework and our surroundings by developing habits that support happiness and realistic optimism. Achor outlined 5 key habits with research that backs each one. You can get them by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, the very practices he outlines are worthwhile and will help you build community and counter fear, but more importantly, Achor’s philosophy dovetails with the foundation of Love Not Fear. We start from the same philosophy:
- We are shaped by our surroundings, and for too many people, fear is too prevalent in those surroundings, especially the artificial fear generated by media and marketing of all kinds
- We are social creatures, so much so that the action of building real social connections counters the influence of fear within isolation.
- We can develop habits that rewire our brains and rebalance our lives so that they aren’t overrun by fear, AND we can spread a healthier mindset to others.
Love Not Fear will (I hope) find habits that build on and go beyond the ones Achor uses in the Happiness Advantage, but we’re starting from the same place.
PS – In the off chance someone is reading this but hasn’t connected with our Facebook page, or Facebook has decided you don’t need to see what’s posted there, we’re holding a meeting June 30th to form the Love Not Fear organization, and we could use your help. We’ll connect people outside the area virtually, but definitely go sign up if you want to be a part of this!