The second principle of Shawn Achor’s book, ‘The Happiness Advantage’ is The Fulcrum and the Lever. I think it’s more easily understood if you
substitute, Change Your Mindset-Change Your Performance. Below is a visual of a fulcrum (the mind) and lever (power – the longer your lever, the more power/leverage you’ll have). The point being made is that “Our brains have the power to maximize our potential based on:
1. the length of our lever (how much potential power and possibility we believe we have, and
2. the position of our fulcrum – the mindset with which we generate the power to change.”
You’ve heard of the adage, ‘What the mind can believe, the body can achieve’. Many of us have heard of the “Placebo Effect”—where people are given a sugar pill and told this will alleviate some problem they have. The experts have been surprised at the number of people who say they had been ‘cured’ of whatever had been bothering them when they were given a placebo (the book quoted a rate of 55-60% of placebos being as effective as medicine). A change in the people’s mindset was enough to make the negative symptom disappear.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you might remember when Ron Weasley was about to play in his first Quidditch game. He was nervous to the point of not being able to play. Harry had in his possession, a powerful potion that enabled magical results. He pretended to give a dose to Ron and Ron took it and believed he was one pumped-up Quidditch player and played an outstanding game. It wasn’t until afterwards that Harry showed Ron he still had the magical potion.
There was an example in the book about a group of hotel maids being told that as they cleaned and tidied up hotel rooms, the walking, cleaning, lifting, etc. they were doing could really be looked upon as exercise and their jobs probably had the added benefit where they would lose weight. The group that was told this actually did lose weight and the other group who knew nothing about it, didn’t. The mind is so powerful.
Having confidence in yourself and the ability to instill confidence (in our children, our spouse, in our staff, in a volunteer group), is so powerful and useful. Consider this quote from the book:
Belief in your own ability is a stronger predictor of job performance than actual level of skill
Changing our Mindset
So, what’s in this for me – how can I use and benefit from this principle? First, do you believe what Achor has written? Of course, he’s not the first one to put this philosophy to paper. There are many authors, speakers and coaches out there who talk about confidence, mindset and the results you can experience. I must admit, it’s taken me years to change my mindset to believe this and to take the time to read a book like this, much less spend this much time writing about it. I need to give a lot of credit to my husband because he’s been a reader and believer for quite some time and I’ve been more of a scoffer.
So – on to some practical application…
1. Adjust, or change the way you think about a particular circumstance. We all have things we dislike to do. Maybe there’s a repetitive task at work you dislike. I really don’t care for filing, but my desk and office really look spiffy when it’s done. So instead of focusing on the actual doing of the task, I should focus on how I’ll feel when it’s done. Maybe you’re stuck in traffic or behind someone really slow – instead of feeling angry, choose to feel indifferent or even cheerful – don’t let your whole day be affected by this – rise above it!
2. Rewrite your situation into something more positive. Maybe you need to do this with your job or your attitude. Is your job
- A job (probably won’t get much satisfaction if you look at it like this).
- A career (are you looking to get ahead, get power, get promoted?).
- A calling (look at what you do with different eyes—and find meaning in what you’re doing).
I am inspired by my husband who has done this with whatever work he’s done. He used to install flooring and he installed each one in the best he could and thought of his work as craftsmanship and even artistry (which it was). He knew how expensive flooring material was and how people saved up to get a floor and he was going to make it a great experience for them.
3. Surround yourself with positive people and surround yourself with the kind of people you want to be. I like these scriptures when thinking about this:
Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 22:24-25 Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious— don’t get infected.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Changing your mindset will change your outcome. Practice rewriting and retraining your brain. If you already practice this, please leave one of your stories in the comment section.