Yakima Town Hall

Yakima Town Hall - Town Hall speaker says happiness is a work ethic


When Shawn Achor attended Harvard University, he wondered why everyone didn't share his sense of gratitude and joy.

So Achor set out to discover what made people happy. On Wednesday, the researcher and author shared some of his findings before a packed house at the Capitol Theatre as part of the Yakima Town Hall Series.

"Happiness actually makes you smarter," Achor said. "When your brain is positive, it performs at its highest level. ... To me, happiness is a work ethic. When you create habits, you change your mind-set."

For the past 12 years, Achor has studied the science of happiness and human potential and their effects on business. One of his discoveries is that happy people are more productive.

Children -- primed by being asked to think of their happiest memory -- will put blocks together up to 50 percent faster than children who aren't prepped. The same holds true for doctors, who -- if happy -- come to the correct diagnosis 19 percent faster than if they were negative, Achor said.

On the flip side, Achor said the amount of money people make, their education and where they live matter little in determining their happiness.

"Ninety percent of your happiness has nothing to do with the external world but with how we process it," he said. "The difference is the lens in which we view the world."

To become happier -- and therefore more successful -- Achor said people must believe their behavior matters. They need to develop social support networks and they should see stress as a challenge rather than a threat.

Brains can be trained to do this through such acts as exercising, journaling and meditating, he said. But to become a habit, one must engage in the activity for 21 consecutive days.

"You already know what makes you happy," Achor said. "All this stuff is common sense. But common sense is not the same as common action."

by Erin Snelgrove, Yakima Herald Republic

Posted April 13, 2011

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