5 Ways to Create Sustainable Positive Change

April 18, 2013      By Ultimate Software

Everyone wants to be happy at work. It’s only common sense. In all my years, I’ve never heard anyone say they wanted to be miserable at work. That being said, sometimes negativity does permeate the work place. And once it does, it can be very difficult to change.

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, shared with us the secrets to sustainable positive change during his session at this year’s Ultimate Software Connections Conference. Achor explains that happiness and success are directly linked. His research says there are 3 predictors of success:

Optimism – our behavior matters and has the ability to positively change others.
Social Connection – building positive, supportive relationships.
Stress is a Challenge – the way we view and manage stress impacts our outlook on work and life.

It’s important to note that happiness and success are not interchangeable. Achor says that success doesn’t automatically get you happiness. But, the author maintains – happiness will get you success. Each time we achieve a goal (i.e. we realize success), it will raise the bar for the next goal. That’s how happiness continues to drive our productivity and increase our successes.

Achieving happiness isn’t easy. The whole idea of “finding happiness” often gets a bad-rap for sounding unrealistic. We need to take off the rose-colored glasses and join the real world. Truth is, happiness is a choice and we have the ability to retrain our brain to see the world and process information from a positive point of view.

Achor offers 5 actions that someone can take to create positive change. He recommends choosing one and doing it every day for 21 days. After 21 days, hopefully it’s turned into a habit and you can move on to another action.

  1. Three Gratitudes – List three things every day that you’re grateful for. If you don’t want to write a list using paper and pen, find an app like Gratitude Journal 365 (iTunes, $0.99) where you can create the list online.
  2. Journaling – Take two minutes each day to document one meaningful personal or professional experience. You could do this in a notebook, using an app or possibly even create a blog.
  3. Exercise – 15 minutes of cardio. This could be a quick walk during a break or lunch. Great way to clear your thoughts and get a little activity at the same time.
  4. Meditation – For two minutes, stop the multi-tasking and focus on one thing: breathing. As much as we’ve heard multi-tasking doesn’t work…we still try to accomplish everything at the same time. Two minutes to focus on your own breathing isn’t a long time.
  5. Acts of Kindness – For two minutes, thank or praise someone else. Consider these conscious acts of kindness. Intentionally identify someone you want to thank. It might be a current co-worker or maybe someone you went to school with.

The first step in creating sustainable positive change lies with each of us. Achor tells us that we must change ourselves in order to change others. By adopting an optimistic attitude, we have the ability to influence others with our behavior and create a positive outcome.

If you haven’t heard Shawn Achor before, he’s definitely worth watching. Check out his TED talk on “The Happy Secret to Better Work”.


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