In my book, “The Happiness Advantage, I described why happiness is the precursor to greater success. In my new book, “Before Happiness,” I address what comes before both. Before we can be happy or successful, we need to develop the ability to see that positive change is possible. Creating this outcome is not just about spreading happiness but about helping others create a reality in which success (and happiness) is possible. Critically, you can learn to transfer your positive reality to others, which I call positive inception.
One of the best strategies for positive inception is rewriting the social script. Every aspect of our work and home life is guided by hidden social scripts— unwritten social agreements that govern our thoughts and actions with others. But certain social scripts wield more influence on our collective behavior than others. Social psychologists have found that the more positive one’s social script, the greater one’s ability to influence. A positive social script can increase workforce engagement up to 40 percent.
Three effective ways to change the social script that lead to positive inception are:
- Speaking first, or using a “power lead.” Simply by being the first to speak, you can set the social script with a power lead to turn your conversations positive. Instead of setting a tone (and social script) of negative and stressed, you can start conversations with a positive topic.
- Utilizing humor. Humor wields more influence than negativity and, therefore, is more effective in creating positive inception. Humor is attractive, not just in romantic partners, but in business partners, politicians, and anyone else writing a social script because it is a signal of cognitive fitness. Flex your humor muscle.
- Creating a shared narrative. Develop a shared narrative (a positive story) about a time your team or company overcame an obstacle or challenge. And share it actively and often. Post examples on walls in the building; even include pictures for greater visual attraction. This action can be a renewable source of positivity for years to come.
Incorporating these strategies into your own daily reality can help spread happiness to others—and create a positive emotional environment for all.