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Happy Secret: Why success at work doesn't necessarily make you happier

We aim for promotions and higher numbers on our pay slips. We want to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as possible, but when we get to the top we don't feel the happiness we want. Because then we want more. In his TED Talk, the American psychologist Shawn Achor explains why our brain works this way and how we can rewrite the formula according to our own happiness The happy secret to better work.

Our thought patterns determine our happiness

The psychologist Anchor looked for happiness where it should be teeming with dopamine: at Harvard. Because this is where students live their dream, having made it to one of the most important elite universities and now a path full of successes ahead of them. But in his research, a clear picture emerged for Achor: after just two weeks, the brains of the students were no longer concentrating on the pure privilege of being there. The focus now was on competition, pressure to perform and stress.

“Competition in our own ranks.” - Employer evaluation at KSV1870

The reason for this: our thinking pattern. Because even if we keep making our own happiness dependent on other factors, only 10 percent of a person's long-term happiness can be predicted if their entire external environment is taken into account. The remaining 90 percent depends on how our brain processes the environment. The psychologist also shows in his research results that only 25 percent of professional success is determined by the IQ. Three quarters, on the other hand, are shaped by one's own optimism, the social environment and the ability to see stress as a challenge rather than a threat.

“I am happy with my job, but like everywhere there are ups and downs.” - employer rating at Donauturm Vienna

The power of positive thinking

According to Achor, most companies only strive for one formula for success: “If I work more, I am more successful. And when I'm more successful, I'm happier. ”And based on this formula for success, management methods try to motivate us in our working world and push us to success. This procedure is scientifically incorrect and upside down for two reasons. First, every time the brain sees success, it simply shifts the finish line for success. If you have a great job, you need a better one. Once you have achieved your goals for the quarter, they will be adjusted upwards. So if happiness is the opposite of success, your brain will never get there.

“Set goals - achieve goals. But only together. ”- Employer rating at CG Gruppe AG

“We have pushed happiness as a society beyond the cognitive horizon. And that's because we believe we have to be successful in order to be happier, ”believes Achor. Second, the problem is that our brains work the other way around. Because if a person's positivity can be increased, the brain gains a so-called happiness advantage. In a positive state we can perform much better, our intelligence increases, as does our creativity and our energy level. In a positive state, our brain is 31 percent more productive than in a negative, neutral or stressed state.

“Very pleasant and motivating working atmosphere, you definitely feel good.” - Employer rating at Amadeus FiRe AG

Happiness can be trained

According to the psychologist, we are happier if we train our brain like a muscle. His tip: keep a diary. “In every single company I've worked with, people should write three new things they are grateful for. 21 days in a row, three new things a day. At the end of this time, a pattern remains in the brain with which it scans the world not first for negative, but for positive ”, says Achor.

Because if we train our ways of thinking in the same way as we steer our body into new performance paths, then we can rewrite the formula for our own success and break free from old limits. Even when we were impressed as children that work is strenuous, not fun and that it - thanks to procrastination - must be prevented at all costs, our inner attitude changes our view of it. We are solely responsible for our happiness and entirely no matter what job we have, when we are unhappy, we take this attitude with us to the next job.

More happy secret tips

Success diary. It is innate in us humans to store negative experiences rather than positive ones. You can create more positivity by noting successes on a daily basis and being aware of how often you record them but don't realize them at all. It can start with a home-cooked dish that has turned out well.

Smile. A simple smile creates a positive feeling and more positivity all by itself. Anyone who just pauses and smiles often in everyday life will notice that quickly.

Talk about it. The gratitude exercise described earlier can be expanded by simply talking to friends, family, or colleagues about what one is grateful for and how beautiful our world actually is. Spread the positivity!

Shawn Achors TED Talk "The happy secret to better work"