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  • when I was 7 y/o & my sister was just 5 y/o, we were playing on top of a bunk bed

  • I was 2 years older than my sister at that time, I mean I'm 2 years older than her now, But

  • At that time, that meant she had to do every thing that I wanted to do & wanted to play war

  • so we were up on top of our bunk beds & on one side of the bunk bed I put out all my GIJoe soldiers & weaponry &

  • on the other side were all my sisters milos & ponies& ready for a cavalry charge

  • There are different account of what actually happened that afternoon & since my sister is not here with us to day,

  • let me tell you the true story Which is my sister is a little bit on the clumsy side

  • &somehow without any help or push from her older brother at all, suddenly Amy disappeared off of the top of the bunk bed &

  • Landed with this crash on the floor Now, I nervously peered over the side of the to see

  • What have befallen my fallen sister & saw that she landed painfully on her hands & knees

  • on all fours on the ground I was nervous because my parents have charge me with

  • making sure that my sister & I played as safely & quietly as possible & seeing as how I'd accidently broken Amy's arm just one week before;

  • heroicly pushing her out of the way of an uncoming imaginary sniper bullet

  • for which i have yet to be thanked,

  • I was trying as hard as i could-/she didn't even see it coming/- Iwas trying as hard as i could to be on my best best behaviour

  • & I saw my on sister's face's wail in pain & suffering & surprise threatening to erupt from her mouth

  • & threatening to wake my parents from their long winter's nap for which they had setteled

  • so I did the only thing my little frantic 7yo brain could think to do to avert this tragedy

  • & if you have children you've seen this hundred's of times before I said:Amy, Amy WAIT! don't cry, don't cry

  • did you see how you landed? no human lands on all fours like that

  • Amy, I think this means you are a Unicorn

  • now, that was cheating 'cause there's nothing in the world my sister would want more than not to be Amy the hurt 5yo little sister but

  • Amy the special Unicorn Of course; this was an option that was open to her brain at no point in the past

  • & you could see at my poor manipulated sister's face conflict as her little brain attempted to devote resources to feeling

  • the pain & suffering & surprise she's just experienced or contemplating her newly found identity as a Unicorn

  • & the latter one won ,instead of crying, istead of ceasing our play, instead of waking my

  • parents with all the negative consequances the would have been sued for me

  • instead; a smile spread across her face &she scrambled right back up on the the bunk bed

  • with all the grace of a baby unicorn

  • with one broken leg

  • what we stumbled across- at this tender age of just 5&7 we had no idea that time- was something that is going to be

  • the vangaurd of a scientific revolution occuring 2 decades later in the way that we look at the human brain

  • What we've stumbled across is something called positive psychology , which is the reason that I'm here today

  • & the reason that I wake up every morning

  • when i first started to talk about this research outside of Acadamia ,at companies & schools

  • the very first thing they said to never do is to start my talk with a graph the very first thing I want to do is start my talk with a graph

  • This graph looks boring but this graph is the reason that i get excited & wake up every morning

  • &this graph doesn't even mean anything, it's fake data what we found is:

  • if I've got this data backsetting you here in the room I would be thrilled because there is clearly a trend that is going on there &

  • that means that i could get published which is all that really matters

  • The fact that there is one weird red dot outside above the curve: there is one weird in the room, you know who you are , i saw you earlier

  • That's no pro(ble)m That's no prom as most of you know because I can just delete that dot

  • I can delete that dot because it's clearly a measurement error & we know that's a measurement error because it's messing up my data

  • so one of the very first things we teach people in economics & statistics & business & psychology courses

  • how in a statistically valid way do we eliminate the weirdos how do we eliminate the outliers

  • so that we could find the line of best fit which is fantastic if I'm trying to find out how many Advil that average person should be taking? 2

  • but if I'm interested in potential,if I'm interested in your potential for happiness or productivity or energy or creativity

  • what we are doing is recreating the cult of the average for science if I ask you a question like;

  • how fast can a child learn to read in a classroom? scientists change the answer to how fast does the average child learn how to read in that classroom

  • & then we tailor the class right towards the average now if you fall below the average on this curve ;

  • then psychologists get thrilled,because that means you're either depressed or you have a disorder or hopefully both

  • we're hoping for both because our business motto is; if you come into a therapy session with one problem

  • we wanna make sure you leave knowing you have 10, so you'll keep coming back over & over again, we'll go back into your childhood if necessary

  • but eventually what we want to do is make you 'normal' again but 'normal' is merely average

  • & what I posit & what positive psychology posits is that if we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average

  • Then instead of deleting those positive outliers, what I intentionally do is come to a population like this one &say why?

  • why is it that some of you are so high above the curve in terms of your intellectual ability, athletic ability, musical ability, creativity,

  • energy levels, your reseliance in the fance of challenge, your sense of humour?

  • what ever it is, instead of deleting you, what i wanna do is study you

  • 'cause maybewe can glean in information not just how to move people up to the average, but how we can move the entire average up at our companies & schools worldwide

  • the reason this graph is so important to me is when i turn on the news, it seems like

  • the majority of the information is not positive in fact it's negative

  • most of it is about murdur, corruption, diseases, natural disasters &very quickly, my brain starts to think:

  • that's the accurate ration of negative & positive in the world what that is doing is creating something called medical school syndrome

  • which if you know people who've been to medical school, during the first year of medical training,

  • as you read through a list of all the symptoms & diseases that could happen, suddenly you realize you have all of them

  • I have a brother in law named Bobo which is a whole another story

  • Bobo married Amy the unicorn Bobo called me on the phone from Yale medical school &

  • Bobo said:Shawn, I have Leprosy Which even at Yale is extraordinarily rare

  • but I had no idea how to console poor Bobo, because he had just gotten over an entire week of menopause

  • See: what we are finding is: not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality

  • &if we can change the lens, not only can we change our happines, we can change every single education & business outcome at the sametime

  • when i applied to Harvard, I applied on a dare I didn't expect to get in &my family had no money for college

  • When I got a military scholarship 2 weeks later, they allowed me to go suddenly something wasn't even a possibility became a reality

  • when i went there I assumed every one else would see it as a privilege as well That they'd be excited to be there. even if you are in a classroom

  • full of people smarter than you, 'you'd be happy just being in that classroom'

  • which is what i thought but what I found there is while some people experienced that

  • when I graduated after my 4 years & spent the next 8 years living in the dorms with the students

  • -Harvard asked me to , I wasn't that guy- but what happened

  • I was an officer at Harvard who'd counsel students through the difficult 4 years & what I found in my research &my teaching

  • is that these students, no matter how happy they were with the original success of geting into the school,

  • 2 weeks later their brains were focused not on the privilege of being there, nor on the philosophy or their physics,

  • their brains focus on the competition, the work load, the hassels, the stresses, the complaints

  • When I first went in there I walked into the freshmen dining hall which is where my friends -from Waco Texas where I grew up,

  • I know some of you have heard of it- when they come to visit me they look around. They say:

  • this freshmen dining hall looks like something out of Hogworts in the movie Harry Potter

  • which it does 'cause that's Hogworts in movie Harry Potter &that's harvard

  • &when they see this they say: Shawn, why do you waste your time studying happiness at Harvard?

  • seriously, what does a harvard student possibly have to be unhappy about?

  • embedded withing that question is the key to understand the science of happiness 'cause what that question assumes is that:

  • our external world is predictive of our happiness levels when in reality:

  • if i know every thing about your external world, I can only predict 10% of your long term happiness

  • 90% of your long term happiness is predicted not by the external world but by the way your brain processes the world

  • & if we change it, if we change our formula for happiness &success; what we can do is change the way that we can then affect reality

  • what we found is that only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ 75% of job succeses are predicted by your optimism levels, your

  • social support, & your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat I talked to a boarding school up in New England

  • probably the most prestigious boarding school &they said: we already know that

  • so every year, instead of just teaching our students, we also have a wellness week & we are so excited

  • Monday night we have the world leading expert coming in to speak about idleness & depression

  • Tuesday night is school violence &bullying Wednesday night is eating disorders

  • Thursday night is illicit drug use &Friday night we are trying to decide between risky sex or happiness

  • I said that's most people's Friday nights

  • which I'm glad you like, but they did notlike that at all, silence on the phone

  • &into the silence I said: I'd be happy to speak to your school, but just so you know

  • that's not a wellness week that's a sickness week

  • what you've done is outline all the negative things that can happen but not talk about the positive

  • the absence of disease is not health here is how we get to health:

  • we need to reverse the formula for happiness & success In the past 3 years, I've travelled to 45 different countries working with

  • schools & companies in the midst of an economic down turn

  • &what I found is that most companies & schools follow formula for success which is this:

  • if I work harder, I will be more successful &if I'm more successful, then I'll be happier

  • that undergirds most of our parenting styles, our managing styles, the way that we motivate our behaviour & the problem is:

  • it is scientifically broken & backwards for 2 reasons;

  • first: every time your brain has a success, you just change the goal post of what success looks like

  • you've got good grades, now you have to get better grades you've got into good school, now you have to get into abetter school

  • you've got a good job, now you have to get a better job you hit your sales target, you could change your sales target

  • &if happiness is on the opposite side of success,your brain never gets there what we've done is that we push happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society

  • & that's because we think we have to be successful then we will be happier but the real problem is our brain is working the opposite order

  • if you could raise somebody's level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage

  • which: your brain when positive performs significantly better than it does when negative, neutral or stressed

  • your Intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise in fact; what we found is that every single business outcome improves

  • your brain when positive is 31% more productive than when negative, neutral or stressed -you're 37% better at sales

  • doctors are 19% faster &more accurate in coming up with a correct diagnosis when in positive than in negative, neutral or stressed

  • which means we can reverse the formula if we can find a way of becoming positive in the present

  • then our brains work even more successfully as we are able to work harder, faster &more intelligently

  • what we need to be able to do is to reverse this formula so we could start to see what our brains are actually capable of

  • because Dopamine which floods into your system when you are positive has 2 functions;

  • not only does it make you happier it turns on all the learning centers in your brain

  • allowing you to adapt to the real world in a different way we've found that there are ways you can train your brain to

  • be able to become more positive in just 2 minutes span of time done for 21 days in a row

  • we can actually rewire your brain allowing your brain to actually work more optimistically &more successfully

  • we've done there things in research now &in every single company that I've worked with

  • getting them to write down 3new things that they are grateful for for 21days in a row

  • 3new things each day, &at the end of it, their brains start retaining the pattern of

  • scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first

  • Journalling about one positive experience you've had over the past 24hours allows your brain to relive it

  • exercise teaches your brain that your behaviour matters

  • we find that meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we've been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once

  • allows our brains to focus on the task at hand

  • &finally

  • Random Acts of Kindness or conscious Acts of Kindness we get people when they open up their inbox to write one positive email

  • praising or thanking somebody in their social support network

  • &by doing these activities &by training your brain just like we train our bodies

  • what we found is that we could reverse the formula for happiness &success &in doing so not only create ripples of positivity, but create a real revolution

  • Thank you very much

when I was 7 y/o & my sister was just 5 y/o, we were playing on top of a bunk bed

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Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 US brain happiness positive sister bobo average

Shawn Achor- The happy secret to better work - ( Eng Sub Caption )

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    Ruth Tsai posted on 2014/06/16
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