Are you a good or bad thinker?

Lurking in Act 2, Scene 2, of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is a line that could have been stolen from Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism. In this scene, Hamlet speaks to Rosencrantz, saying, “…for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Regardless of your personal convictions or feelings about Buddhism, many view it as a philosophy that espouses a different way of perceiving the world, one in which the more you struggle to see things in terms of good or bad, the more you’re going to struggle, period.

That sets the stage for understanding how the subtle ways we perceive the world begin to formulate in us certain ways of working. Did you know, for instance, that people who study and analyze the most effective ways to work begin by understanding where the average level of productivity is or the average level of satisfaction in a company? They then work to help those employees below the average get up to it. What about studying the happiest, most productive people, and lifting the company up to that standard? As Shawn Achor, a Harvard researcher who studies happiness has found, we need new metrics, new ways of looking at things.

Check out his Ted Talk here. 

In America, we’ve been taught, “Work hard. Work really, really hard. And then you can achieve a good job, a nice house, and everything you want. And then you’ll be happy. Or maybe you can derive some nominal happiness out of working really hard!” What if, in actuality, it worked more like this: “Get happy. Figure out how to be happy, because happiness makes you smarter. Your brain, when happy, produces dopamine, which makes you 31 percent smarter. If you’re happier, and smarter, that’s when it’s easier to be successful at your job.”

It’s a really interesting notion–one that you might find bears a little further personal investigation.

By Matt Levin

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