Shared Stories - Shawn Achor - clip 1 video transcript
Shawn Achor stands in front of a black background.
SHAWN: We keep thinking, "If I work harder right now, "I'm gonna be more successful and achieve these goals, and think how happy I'll be then." Work harder, be more successful-- then I'll be happier. That formula undergirds our parenting styles, our leadership styles, our personal development styles, and it's scientifically broken and backwards for two reasons. The first reason is, every time your brain has a success, your brain is designed to change the goalpost of what success looks like. It's designed to do that. Otherwise, the very first time you put Legos together as a four-year-old, you could've been done in terms of happiness and success. Think about it today--like, if I ask, "Are you successful and happy?" You're like, "Yes. I put those Legos together when I was four." And that would be the end of the story for you; that'd be phenomenal. But that's not how our brain works, right? We want to see what your brain is capable of beyond that first Lego set. What we want to see is how much you're capable of. So we want the goal to keep changing. The problem is, if you put happiness on the opposite side of success, your brain doesn't get there, ever. It's a moving target, right? Don't get--if you get good grades in school, don't get excited yet. You need to get into a better school. You get into a good school, don't get excited yet-- you don't even have a job. You get a job, don't get excited--you need to hit your targets. You hit your targets? That's great. What if we raise your targets for the next quarter? Doubled growth earnings last year-- what if we double them again this year? None of that's the problem. That's all fantastic. The only problem is if we thought happiness would exist on the opposite side of it. If it did, every celebrity, professional athlete, and every rich person in the world would be much happier than the rest of us. And what we find is, that's not the case. Success doesn't automatically yield higher levels of happiness. In fact, in our meta-analysis, we found that if your levels of success rise continually for the next five-year period of time, your happiness levels for the next five years flatline; they actually don't move. But flip it around-- if we can deepen your optimism, social connection, or gratitude that you have in this current moment, turns out every single business and educational outcome we know how to test for rises significantly. It turns out success doesn't yield higher levels of happiness. But when you measure it, happiness yields significantly higher levels of success on the back side of it.