Dan Offers You a Happiness Advantage (#6)

In this scenario, are you lucky or unlucky?  You are in a bank lobby with fifty other people.  A bank robber comes in and fires a shot.  You are hit in the arm and it turns out you are the only one hit.  Lucky or unlucky?

If you say lucky, your reasoning might be that you could have been killed.  If you say unlucky, you might say that going to the hospital with a bullet in your arm is indeed unlucky.

Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor

In this study that Shawn Achor writes about in his book, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, 70% of the people surveyed said that they would be unlucky.  If you make certain assumptions about Wall Street folks, you’ll love this.  More than one Wall Streeter said he was unlucky since out of 50 people, someone else had to be more deserving of the bullet.  Whoa!

The point of this exercise is that whether you say lucky or unlucky, neither is true.  It is just your perspective.  In fact, either answer is a “counterfact,” a hypothetical that we invent to make sense of what happened.  If you choose a positive counterfact, you set in motion a positive mindset that benefits your motivation and performance.  If you can train yourself to see circumstances with positive counterfacts, you are on the road to greater happiness.

Here’s another highlight of the Happiness Advantage.  Soldiers going off to war were told that there were two options when they returned – (1) they’d be normal or (2) they’d have Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  Over the last generation there has been research that points to a third possibility, a third path – Post-Traumatic Growth or Adversarial Growth.  Good can come out of a struggle with something difficult.  It’s along the lines of obstacles are opportunities that we hear about at our Unity services.

Principle #1 talks of the advantages of finding something to look forward to, committing conscious acts of kindness, and spending money (but Not on Stuff) as ways to enhance your happiness.

Later in the book, he talks about the happiness advantaqge depending on how you look at your work.  Is it a job, a career, or a calling?  If you can reframe your work into a calling, happiness can follow.

SA Ted image

Shawn offers practical, understandable explanations from research that you can use today to enhance your current level of happiness or turn your RAF (male) or RBF (female) into one of happiness.

Shawn has an entertaining 12 minute TED talk to highlight some of his points in the Happiness Advantage.  Click on this link to see it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXy__kBVq1M



3 thoughts on “Dan Offers You a Happiness Advantage (#6)

  1. It’s pretty hard to tell if something good happened or something bad happened until well after the fact. The immediate reaction to being shot, for most people, is probably that something bad happened. In retrospect it’s pretty easy to see that’s not completely true. My son had a bike crash last month, definitely a bad thing. He suffered a concussion and was grounded from flying for a month. But though he landed on his face, breaking his helmet, he didn’t suffer permanent brain damage, he didn’t break his nose or jaw or cheekbone, he didn’t crack ribs, he didn’t ruin his shoulder, he didn’t lose his career in the Air Force. Along with that, my husband and I happened to be a few feet away from him when it happened (we live 2000+ miles away) so we could deal with the first responders and ER people, and keep watch on him the first couple of days. All in all it would have been “luckier” to not crash. But hey, for all the bad things that could have happened and didn’t, we’ll take it.

    I’ve found that, in all kinds of situations, it helps me to think of things as “confusing” or “interesting” rather than good or bad or lucky or unlucky. Immediate judgments like this tend to stop processing rather than advance it. By backing off the immediate judgments, I continue to process and tend to understand better.

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