Turns out the answer to this question is a tremendous predictor of overall success.
This week we’ve been looking at some of the key lessons of Shawn Achor‘s terrific book The Happiness Advantage which summarizes many of the tenants of positive psychology.
People who think of themselves as lucky:
* Set more (and more difficult) goals
* Put more effort into achieving those goals
* Stay more engaged when faced with difficulty
* Rise above obstacles more easily
It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy: because we think we are lucky, we work harder. When we see our hard work paying off, our belief in ourselves grows stronger.
Turns out one of biggest drivers of success is our belief that our behavior matters – that we have control of our future. Researchers call it an internal vs. external “locus of control:” my actions have a direct effect on outcome versus what happens to me is dictated by outside forces.
The reverse is true, too. It’s called learned helplessness and it impacts not only our happiness but also our health. In one study of 7,400 workers, those who felt they had little control over deadlines imposed by others had a 50 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease. In another study, researchers asked a group of nursing home residents to take charge of watering their own plants and other similar tasks. Not only were they happier, but their mortality rate dropped in half.
Reflection: Do I consider myself lucky?
Action: Intentionally take charge of one specific area of my life.