The Happiness Advantage, also known as the optimistic personality theory, is a contemporary psychology concept that draws a relationship between personal happiness and overall professional success. This concept states that individuals must be happy in the present in order to reach their goals in life. However, in order to apply this concept to workplace behavior, it is important to examine how happy an individual truly is in the first place. In most cases, individuals who say they are very happy with their lives are actually not as happy as they appear to be.
According to this perspective, humans begin to behave in different ways as they become old. As a result, the thoughts and actions of the young brains become the pathways of the old brains. In order to understand the behavior of the old brain, it is necessary to examine the behavior of the young brains that come later in life. Young children have been found to exhibit significantly less interest in things like math and science. They are actually performing below par in these areas, which researchers believe is due to the fact that their brains do not have enough serotonin to stimulate them to perform well.
What does this all mean for you? It means that the happiness advantage is more about how successful people view the world around them than it is about the actual act of being happy. When you are surrounded by positive energy and a thriving work environment, you will be able to focus on your successes rather than your failures. However, when your environment is filled with negativity, you will have difficulty focusing. For this reason, many psychologists have begun to teach their clients the importance of being happy in the face of adversity.
In addition to the current study mentioned above, psychologists also believe there is a connection between the happiness advantage and the work harder mindset. In short, the mindset can affect the results you get from your efforts. According to the mentioned study, those who put in the extra effort typically increase their level of happiness, as well as their productivity. Those who do not put in the extra effort tend to perceive the task as a difficult endeavor and they work harder.
The good news is that the strength of the positive mindset can transfer over into other areas. One area where this has been tested is in sports. Athletes that exhibit high levels of positive thinking have been found to perform better at their sport. A recent study performed at the University of Oregon tested the swimming and running ability of swimmers and found that those who held a strong positive attitude during training had faster performances. This same study then went on to test the golfers’ mindset, finding that those with positive attitudes also had higher scores.
This same research also suggests that the happiness advantage holds true in the realm of business. Many successful people in the business world tend to have a high positive attitude. One reason for this is the direct effect that positivity has on the brain. According to the same study conducted at the University of Oregon, successful people have greater activity in their limbic and paralimbic regions of the brain.
The reason behind this is that these parts of the brain control emotion, motivation, creativity and decision making. They also produce hormones and may even be directly related to the immune system. According to the aforementioned paper, the happiness-hampers-us part of the brain produces the “fear-avoidance cycle”, which makes us do things that will help us avoid pain (bad habits) or get things that we need (positives). These negative emotions then have a direct effect on our brains and cause them to crave more sweets (foods that make us feel good).
So there you have it: three different areas in which the happiness advantage can be seen and which support the notion that positivity is a genuine human ability. From the latest research and from my personal observations, I think that positive psychology provides many more benefits than just being happier. People who practice positivity and are happy are healthier, happier and generally live longer than those who aren’t. This makes me conclude that positivity IS a real human quality and one that can be developed.