A group of four years olds was asked to do simple learning tasks involving building blocks and putting shapes or colors together. The children were divided into two groups. The first group received instructions immediately. The second group was first asked to think about something that makes them happy and then given the same instructions as the first group. (One can only imagine what a four year old thinks of when asked to think happy thoughts but this is beside the point.) The children who were primed to think positively outperformed the others, completing the tasks faster and with fewer errors.
The benefits of positive emotions abound in schools, in offices and in life—the research is there. In one study, positivity impacted academic performance. Students who were told to think about the happiest day of their lives right before taking a standardized math test outperformed their peers. An analogous study in the workplace yielded similar results: People who expressed more positive emotions while negotiating business deals did so more efficiently and successfully than those who were negative or even neutral.
Bottom line: Even the smallest amounts of positivity boosts cognitive power and job performance. Capitalize on the seemingly tiny, momentary blips of positivity—the micro moments, as it were—that pepper our lives each day and deliberately build more of them into your life. Don’t wait for weekends or vacations to have fun or to laugh. These moments don’t have to be long or involved, either.
Not only will you be happier, you will be more productive and creative too.