550 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 4 JULY 2018
Cultivating optimism is a way of looking at the bright side of things, noticing
what is right about the world and assuming a positive outcome. Selfconfidence
is also critical to happiness and success. When we lack it, we
dwell on our flaws and fail to embrace new challenges or learn new skills.
We hesitate to take even a small risk that can lead to a big opportunity.
The stories we tell ourselves affect the happiness we feel. It is important
to avoid overthinking and social comparison.
Finally, people who feel they have meaning in their lives are happier,
feel more in control and get more out of what they do.
How does all of this connect to our careers, and how can being happier
make us better lawyers?
THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE
Through Dr. Achor’s research we have learned that if you can raise the level
of a person’s positivity in the present, then their brain experiences a happiness
advantage. What that means is that your brain in a positive state performs
significantly better than it does in a negative, neutral or stressed
state. Your intelligence, energy and creativity rise. When this occurs, every
significant business outcome improves. In fact, your brain in a positive
state is thirty-one per cent more effective than it is in a negative, neutral or
stressed state. We need to work on reversing the formula we have been talking
about, because then our brains will work more successfully. Dopamine,
which floods into your system when you are in a positive state, has two
functions: it makes you happier, and it turns on all the learning centres in
your brain, allowing you to adapt to the world in a different way.6
THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT OF HAPPINESS
People used to believe that happiness at work was not an essential element
of success. You did not need to like the people you worked with or even
share their values. “Work is not personal” was the thinking.
This thinking is wrong. Research demonstrates that happy employees
produce more than unhappy ones do over the long term. They are more
likely to show up for work. They are less likely to quit. They go above and
beyond the call of duty. And they attract people who are just as committed
to the job. In fact, building a culture of happiness is becoming one of the
biggest competitive advantages in today’s economy. Happy employees who