The definition of happiness

The definition of happiness

Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around.

One of the leading researchers in the field is Amy Blankson, an expert on positive psychology, Co-founder of GoodThink Inc., and the special guest who will be delivering the Opening Speech at ILTM Americas 2017. After travelling to more than 50 countries researching positive psychology, spending time with farmers who lost their lands in Zimbabwe, Swiss bankers in the middle of a banking crisis, owners of NBA teams and schoolchildren in South Africa, not to mention working with US Presidents, Google, NASA, Oprah and the US Army, Amy observes that, while the triggers of short-term happiness are different across the world, what sustains long-term happiness, is universal across all cultures.

We asked Amy to explain how to use positive psychology to fuel success, and what it means for the future of happiness travel itineraries…

I am the co-founder of GoodThink, a positive psychology consulting firm that works with companies in over 50 countries to bring the science of positive psychology to life.  My co-founder, Shawn Achor, is also my brother, which always makes for a fun and lively work dynamic. Shawn and I came to positive psychology partially because our father was a Neuroscientist. We grew up with our dad running experiments on us and trying out the latest subliminal messages to get us to do our chores. That was just par for the course as children of a psychologist. Every day that school was out, we wound up hanging out in our dad’s office surrounded by psychology experiments and labs and professors–that seemed normal to us.

Another motivation for working in positive psychology was that both of our parents came out of very difficult childhoods, but were able to make the mental switch to rise above their circumstances and choose happiness. It became a way of life for them.  As Shawn and I have gotten older, we spent a lot of time trying to understand: how does someone come out of a history of intense negativity to become something different, to reach a higher plane of potential? We are continually inspired by individuals who are able to do that. Fast forward a few years and I remember Shawn telling me about the latest research that he’d been doing at Harvard on the science of happiness and this idea of positive psychology. He was really excited about it, and it really made me think a little bit about creating community change in a different way, about being able to offer the chance for people to understand optimism and happiness at a time when they actually really needed it.

Over the next few years, we began sharing the research of positive psychology with companies and organizations in over 50 countries, teaching them the principles of positive psychology and strategies for implementing change in a sustainable way. I believe that this movement took off because organizations realized that telling employees to put their heads down and work harder in periods of uncertainty and change was ineffective; the more that leaders could tap into employee’s innate creativity, kindness, and motivation, the more engaged and effective they became. That is the heart of positive psychology and I look forward to sharing more of the strategies that leads to organization change with you in person very soon!

Understanding this field can really have a significant effect on your business. The latest research from the field of positive psychology reveals that training our brains to be more positive is not only possible, it’s actually essential to striving after your full potential.  Why? Because when your brain is positive, it receives a boost of dopamine, which turns on the learning centres in the brain and makes you able to see more possibilities in your environment.  In fact, a positive brain has been linked to: 37% higher sales, 3x more creativity, 31% higher productivity, 40% increase in likelihood of receiving a promotion, 23% decrease in symptoms of fatigue, 10x increase in the level of engagement at work, a 39% increase in the likelihood of living to age 94, and a 50% decrease in the risk of heart disease.

A good network of social connections is the key to personal success in your chosen industry. Research shows that social support is crucial to personal success, in fact, it is the single greatest predictor of your long-term happiness, success, and longevity.  Recent research reveals that social support is as predictive of how long you will live as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking!

An understanding of positive psychology is absolutely key for travel brands that want to offer truly transformations experiences. Travel is about so much more than escape; it’s about opportunity for growth.  Research shows that most successful individuals tend to have a growth mindset (rather than a fixed mindset) about new experiences, meaning that they see their capacity for learning as infinite and boundless.  If we can facilitate opportunities for growth through travel, we can help our clients strive after their potential, which is the very definition of happiness.

Amy’s Opening Speech; Strategic Happiness: Creating Meaningful Connections & Sustaining Positive Change, takes place in the Riviera Ballroom, at the Fairmont Mayakoba at 17:00 on 25th September 2017.


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