Recently I reread Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage for a refresher in some proven science-backed ways that will help people to be happy at work. He believes (and his research shows) success doesn’t bring happiness; happiness brings success. You can do things to be happier.

Through positive psychology he teaches how to reprogram our brains in order to capitalize on positivity and improve our productivity and performance.

I can totally attest to his view.
Every business outcome shows improvement when the brain is positive. I lived this process as a trainer and teacher to over 4,000 women in S. Africa.

Over a span of 7 days I delivered 5 keynotes, 1 full day training, attended three events and toured the surrounding areas of Johannesburg and Soweto while under heavy jet-lag and little sleep.

How did I do it? I had no choice but to disrupt my negativity bias and be happy at performing my responsibilities.

And you can too.


Here are 4 effective science-backed habits to help you disrupt your negativity bias towards your work.

1. Give Your Brain a Jolt of Positivity. Waiting for your work to bring eventual happiness puts you at a disadvantage. The more focused your mind is on the negative effects of your work, the more you’re doomed to be unhappy.

Pulling on Barbara Fredrickson’s positive emotion’s broadening effect, you can flood your brain with dopamine and serotonin to help broaden the amount of possibilities that will allow you to think more quickly and creatively.

Start with activities like these:


· using a signature strength in your work 

· meditating

· finding something to look forward to

· committing conscious acts of kindness

· exercising

2. Reframe Your Thoughts About Work. How much more comfortable could you be if you adjust your thinking in such a way that it offers the power to be more fulfilled and successful?

Your view of work affects how you experience it. 

Thinking it’s a “job”, you see work as a chore. 

Thinking “career” views work as a necessity to succeed. 

But thinking it’s a “calling” assesses work as an end in itself that provides meaning and purpose.

Instead of focusing on the work constraints, think of the intrinsic value you derive from work itself. Consider your work as a time to learn and practice new things, to recharge your batteries and to connect with others.

3. Reverse Focus: Problems are Challenges to Overcome. We’ve been wiring our brains to see what’s wrong. The brain is constantly searching the universe for answers.

As you reverse your focus to what is already working instead of what’s wrong, your brain begins reading challenges as opportunities to overcome. This is how optimism works.

I sometimes talk aloud to myself (my brain) and tell it, “There must be something good in this.” You can train your brain in the same way.

Start with journaling daily the good things in your work, career and life. Studies support that when you write down a list of three good things that happened in your day, your brain will be forced to scan the last 24 hours for potential positives. 

The more the positive, the more optimistic you’ll be, and optimists tend to seize opportunities and act on them.

4. Outsmart Stress. I get it. When our backs are against the wall we feel overwhelmed and emotionally hijacked. This is when you want to lash out at a co-worker and skip the productive decisions.

The majority of stress comes from the way you are choosing to respond to situations.

Write out all your stresses, daily challenges and goals. Now you can identify which parts of the situation you have control over and which you don’t.

The point is to forego the stresses that you cannot control while identifying the ones that are within your control.

Now you can focus your energy on the areas where your efforts will have a real impact.

Develop these habits to bring happiness in your workplace.


Raise workplace morale and employee retention by putting the science of human flourishing to work for you. For training, consulting and/or keynotes, email [email protected]