Saturday, 21 July 2012

Shawn Achor - The Happy Secret to Better Work

When we were young, we study hard so we can get good grades. With good grades, maybe our parents will love us.

Upon stepping into society, we work hard so we can achieve success. With success, maybe we can find the love and the recognition our parents never gave us.

The trouble is once you hit your goal, they keep moving the goal posts...

First in your class? Good boy! Now shoot for first in school. Next comes first in Singapore, and since you are at it, must aim for first in the world too!

When I was a purchaser, and have hit the target of reducing the purchase prices by 20% over 5 years. Guess what was my reward? Another 20% price reduction for the next 5 years!?

I joke to my boss that at the pace the company is going, our suppliers will one day give us their products for free!

And soon we begin to get lots of quality recalls and delivery delays... You guess what's the cause?

Yup, we had our SMRT lesson too. 

So much for the single-mindedness in achieving one single KPI...

This moving of the goal post is not only foist upon us by others. We do it to ourselves too.

After hitting salary of $100,000 per year, we now aim for $200,000 as our next target. Why? 

You tell me :)

I guess how we were brought up has a lot to do with it.

Imagine if you grew up in an environment where love is not condition on what grades you have, what schools you go to, would you not be more likely to be a happy person? 

Less insecure about your future and our place on this little earth?

We can be happy even if we are "damaged goods" (like me).

All we needs is the conscious will to choose happiness.

Compliment more; complain less.

Be grateful; less about entitlements.

Do random acts of kindness; don't hurt others.

Start by holding the door for people behind you ;)



  1. Hi SMOL,
    {Start by holding the door for people behind you ;)}
    "Without expecting anything in return;" (May i add).

    And if you can do that, i guarantee you will be a much happier person. Me i try. But at times i fail; then i feel "miserable". But that's no excuse for not continue to try to be a better person. i will continue trying because i want to be a happier person. So you see i am actually doing it for my own selfish benefit. Ha! Ha!

    1. Temperament,

      "Without expecting anything in return"

      That's the purest act from a happy, contented, and cultured person.

      I am making baby steps from "this is expected of me" to "what comes naturally" :)

      Peace to all.

  2. Hi SMOL,

    So, I am not the only boy scout in the local financial blogging scene. ;p

    I always believe in trying to be a better person. I am flawed too and I just blogged about a flaw I have. Haha..

    Compliment more, be grateful and be kind. Sounds simple and it could be simple. Just needs a conscious effort like you said. Now, is that simple? ;)

    1. AK,

      I not boy scout. I am sexy cheerleader with hairy legs (and lord knows in other weird places too!)

      I am so happy you understooded my "coded" comment to your post ;)

      A person who can sleep through the mightiest storm is more likely to make the right decision the morning after - millions optional :)

      On my walking rounds, I smile and/or greet people who pass me by. I had to tone it down a bit as some Singaporeans are freaked out by me? LOL!

      Ang mohs, girls, and the elderly respond the best!

      I am happy.

      It starts with me.

  3. When you're holding the door, make sure that the door can't close on you. You never know who you are holding the door for. They might just shut the door on you

    1. Anon 9:56,

      Its OK.

      Temperament has already said it, I do "without expecting anything in return".

      I had opened doors for "royalty" before - no smiles, no thank you, no eye contact...

      I just smile and think to myself: "Wow! That was "sombong"


    2. I don't have problems with that either- no smiles, no eye contact etc. Its those that come in and then kick you out that you need to worry about. Guest that turn host are extremely dangerous but usually very hard to detect until its too late

    3. Maybe I'm just insecure

    4. Anon (I am guessing you are the same person),

      It's quite evident from your comment on 12:33.

      I can empathise.

      I am not blind to the reality - if I have to worry where my next meal will come from, or where to sleep tonight - all my philosophical musings are just bull-shit luxuries more suited for the genteel...

      That's why I am grateful and contented.

      I have not forgotten I am the 5th descendant of a "guest immigrant" from China who came to Singapore and never left.

    5. Yeap, it the same person. Maybe I should think up a nick.

      Grateful I should be, but contented may cost some to lose their edge. Still, its nice to be able to think your way.

      Anyway, need to hurry back to work. Later...

  4. i think shawn's message is ......
    people thinks that in order to be happy, they have to be successful. and to look successful, they have to keep moving up their goal pole. but in reality, it's actually the opposite, the more positive & happy you are, the more successful you are.

    and then he talks about ways to reverse this misconception by rewiring your brain via several activities & exercise.

    quite interesting ideas, thanks for sharing. :)

    p.s about holding door, reminds me of movie "take the lead" where antonio banderas open & hold door for EVERY women. and i thought that he was nuts wahahahaha ..... i curious how women actually felt as well :)

    1. durio,

      You have summarised it better than me!

      It's not theory or voodoo. We just have to look around at our work place or during school reunions.

      Aren't the "lucky" ones more often than not happier than you and me? They talk more about relationships, new experiences, new insights, etc.

      Of course we also have those outwardly "successful" ones whose eyes betray their fears and anxieties. They often talk about their new promotions, new acquisitions, new wife/husband, etc.

      Hey! You've got my drift! Holding doors for others is the most basic act of courtesy.

      Its telling others I see and honour your presence. You are not transparent!


  5. i got 2 cats in my house, they never come close to each other within 2 feet. they have both each other for more than a year, i try my best to get them together, they always end up fighting.

    i had since stop trying, you want to fight, be my guess haha. a cat being a cat, how foolish did i try to force them together.

    don't force yourself to do things that are unnatural, it wound last. get someone to do it for you if you need it badly.

    1. holding of doors, can get a door man what!

    2. what happen if you are in a rash?

      you hold the door for a old helpless lady, but nexts comes a few beauty ladies, what the hack, no problem though the door are a little heavy, then you saw a traffic police approaching your unattended car park illegally, then some more young punks rushing to the door and you are still holding it.

      man, what should you do? aren't we all like that?

    3. how about after watching a football match? surely you are not going to be the first one to rash to the big heavy iron gate?

    4. smol, wake up already? haha.

    5. coconut,

      Woke up very early today at 7:00 am olredi! Normally it's 8:00 am :)

      Just came back from breakfast and first thing I see is so many questions!


      You win liao!

      But I like and agree fully with what you say:

      "don't force yourself to do things that are unnatural, it wound last. get someone to do it for you if you need it badly"

      Don't like to hold doors open for others don't do it lor! If that makes you happy ;)

    6. I am just cheerleading myself to be happy :)

    7. on the contrary, i like to hold doors! haha. if i lost all my money, guess what i will do, doorman. thats right.

      i'm against your idea doesn't mean i woundn't do it. doing something for others doesn't mean i must be happy to do it.

      if you are happy to do it, it is just to satisfying your inner needs, same as you do any other things that will make you happy. but if you do it unwillingly, thats sacrifies.

    8. my point is, if one is condition to just chasing happiness, disregrads of the current condition and you own ability, it will be like you mentioned, running in circles.

    9. same theory applies to trading and in life. you cannot apply one thing in trading and apply another in life, your trading will not last.

    10. so to hold or not to hold (doors)? and how many doors handles are there for everyone to hold if everyone like to hold doors?

      the moral of my story is this, we can do what we want to do but don't expect others to do the same and it shouldn't, especially in area of trading.

    11. Put it as simple as possible. You won't be at ease if people around you are not at ease. So it's also for your own benefit and health to try put people around you at ease. That's why most people like to be in the company of "happy go lucky" people; with a lot of jokes and laughters.
      Ha! Ha! Cheers!

    12. haha, thats what i try to do it to my 2 bloody cats. they are actually very nice with people but not with cats. if they are peaceful, so am i.

      yes Temperament, it is my believe that we can only do it becos of our own benefit, no matter how it is done.

  6. Ah!

    Happiness is a state of mind. (Not another goal)

    Words are powerful yet limited in that they can both enlighten and confuse.

    I can't be "happy" (or confident, or calm, or sanguine) if I am constantly running/chasing after something that I hope it will make me happy ;)

    I agree with you. A trader that is constantly under pressure to make profits will either over trade or have positions that are too big for his level of ability or capital.

    A "happy" (perhaps its not the best of word to use) trader will tailor his position size to his capital and ability. And is able to tell when he has made a mistake and reverse his positions without thinking.

    A "unhappy" trader always has someone or something to "blame" ;)

    Meow, meow.

    1. if i say i'm not after happiness in life you will say i'm crazy. if i say i'm not after money in trading you will also say i'm an idiot.

      without happiness in life you lost the will to live, without money in trading, you lost.. no, no one will let you trade.

      ofcos i want money and happiness, but there is one thing that is more important in trading and in life (no, nothing to do with family) and it has replace money and happiness to be the top spot.

      in my opinion, if you found it that can replace money and happiness, then you will not running in circles chasing money and happiness.

    2. bare in mind in life, we have many options but in trading, we really have no option to began with.

    3. coconut,

      "in my opinion, if you found it that can replace money and happiness, then you will not running in circles chasing money and happiness"

      In Buddhism, we call it "enlightenment".

      You are indeed wise; despite your superficial madness ;)

      I call trading "speculation" as a constant reminder to myself its not "masak masak".

      Hey! I just had an inspiration for a post about the hunter professions!

    4. and i already have my counter arguement for your post, assuming i guess right what you going to say. and then i also think you might just alter your post to anticipate what i'm going to say.

      don't worry, i got that one too (i got you cornered)haha.

    5. You think why I call you "wise"?

      When you said you don't mind opening doors I knew no matter what I say, you will just take the opposite position.

      So the best reply is woof, woof!


  7. reminds me of a movie i watch many years ago title "revolution". a story about a father and teen age son living a simple life but was caught in the american civil war.

    the son was caught and force to fight for the south. and the poor father has no choice but to enroll to protect the son from certain death. he on one hand has to fight the enemy that he didn't want and on the other to protect his son.

    i forget how the story ends but that really comes close to how i feel about as a trader, choosing a path that is "unchoosable".

    1. I watched a similar Korean movie about how a South Korean brother joined the South Korean army first and then somehow became a "hero" fighting for the North Korean communist...

      All in the name of trying to protect his younger brother.

      I different from you. I keep telling myself not to Trade unless I see a catalyst for action. (Unchoosable my foot!)

      Last Friday night I saw the window and short 1 tiny contract of SIMSCI at 349.2 for kopi money.

      I happy today. So corner me all you want :)

      Woof woof! Meow...

    2. nice nice, you got both right, pass!

      are you a trend following trader?

    3. if you are, you are 50% better than me. i try to short the s&p last night but it when down too fast, lucky this time got no balls.

      i always find myself difficult in chasing the market, take longer time to do it.

    4. i give you another tips to think about...

      good traders will always try to get into a trade, fearing of missing out.

      bad traders will always afraid to enter a trade fearing losing money. they think they are safe outside the market slaugtering.

      not every time but most of the time.

    5. so you see, i'm a good trader but also a bad trader, depends on what market is currently doing. i carry my bad trading beheaval all the time that i'm always concious with.

      but net net, still can do la.

    6. i have a golf buddy many years ago who is very funny and cute. oh yes, he used to trade too but later went into property management.

      i can only remember 2 advise he used to give us.

      when i hit a very bad tee shot, he will say "relax la you are too tense", i'll try i replied.

      then the next tee, if again i hit a bad shot, you know what he says? "hey, you are too relax, focus and your eye look at the ball", i'm thinking, ya my balls!

    7. coconut,

      I am opportunistic trend following speculator (I think).

      Yup, life is all about not too tense and not too loose. Your golf buddy also got some Zen poisoning ;)

      #$%&$@*! Last night the SIMSCI went all the way down to 341.1 during the first hour of US open.

      I too greedy. Thought let's see if can go to 340 to cover my short. Today SIMSCI is 346.4 (10:38 am)!?

      Where's the follow through momentum? No trend my sailboat cannot move leh!

      Now I fear my little money will disappear. LOL!

      Trading is a wonderful way to get to know ourselves :)

    8. thats why having a mechanical (preset) system will help you to decide your exit. if you missed, thats the system fault, not yours. you will feel better, better but still #$%&$@*!

      you cannot be discretionery all the time, you will die young!

    9. even traders that are mostly discretionery, they had already know what to do before the market even get there. in a way, they are still following a preset system.

      the best is use both! more on mechanical and less on discretionary.

    10. coconut,

      It's OK. One contract only. Just as long don't lose money I still cool.

      Got 3 more days to go :)

      Drink less kopi lor.

    11. by the way, if i'm you got lucky to short there, i'll double up and go for bigger profit. why worry about the small profit that are left?

    12. look! your phycology is upside down. you are in the money, you should be more offensive and charge! (but don't forget your cut loss if market really turn)

      want to make money better start thinking hard.

    13. ops, did i say it too hard? my apology.

    14. No worries coconut!

      I love the way you share with me how full-time traders think and work ;)

      Like what I've shared with my cbox friend below, I am better with the 6-18 months time frame. That works for me when I had a day job - no need to monitor markets on a daily basis. That's for my core positions :)

      I am playing around in the futures for kopi money since Feb 12. So far so good!

      It's OK. I made quite a lot of kopi money shorting the mini-Euro FX 2 weeks ago by shorting at 1.2607 and covering last Friday night at 1.2165 :)

      I got the SIMSCI and Euro shorts reversed. Should cover on the SIMSCI and press on the Euro short instead!

      Why is it so much clearer AFTER the fact?


      I think my entry is better than my exit. Must work on it!

    15. impressive! you are deffinately a trend follower.

      but why you sound so stupid haha?

      i also keep thinking of shorting the euro, think only, my excuse is always got better trade elsewhere, knn!

      next time tell me when you get into a trending trade, i'll tack along blindly!

    16. oh to answer your question, Why is it so much clearer AFTER the fact?

      it is becos you are expecting the unexpected, or trying to figure the unfigurable (haha).

    17. Hello!

      I not stupid OK?

      I just not very bright only.


    18. And you are not helping with your answers!?

      OK, must go for a walk now to figure out your cryptic Zen- like replies.

      Well, at least I get to practice on my Zen!

    19. suggest you get a dog for your walk. keep you accompany and who knows, the dog might teach you something.

      how to explain ha i wonder, if you walk and don't have a destination, along the way you still do the usual thing like looking at mei mei, wisthering to chie chie, then stop at one place to rest. and you don't even care what this place is, you just wanted to rest.

      then you will not have the "Why is it so much clearer AFTER the fact?" kind of feeling, becos there isn't anything to be clear about. got it?

      sometimes when you trade, you don't even realised that the price had actually gone so far. got it got it??

    20. and along the way, you better not looking at your pocket book, otherwise, WAHHHH!!!, either you becomes panic or hysteral(extreme happy), then thats where everything can go wrong.

      also it is why having a system helps big time.

    21. coconut,

      I hear you. Shao dou (in Cantonese)!

      Got caught counting chips while playing at the poker table... This one on not looking at pocket book I understand.

      Superb explanation on the dog and wanting to rest and we don't care where! OK, I understand 50% for now :)

    22. haha the dog was just a joke, i don't even have one.

      i find it hard to explain, even harder to understand cos the only way to understand is to experience it. i can understand why you don't understand the complete understanding.

      sometime, i feel that it just a fine line that you need to cross it as to experience it. this is where most inexperience traders cannot express and i can tell their weakness in a blink.

    23. you know i had been trading the sti since it crash, from what 2000 down to 1400 and stright up to 3300, back down to 2500 up to 3000. did you see i "wah" or feel so clear as to where the sti is so damn high now and where the hell it is going? no! (except my last year big lost i know i know, my mistake ok haha)

      but if i am not participate in the market and wanted to, i would probably say things like if only i got in here and shorting there just like the euro trade that never come true haha.

    24. So refreshingly honest!

      Do keep giving me "challenges" to exercise my feeble brain.

      By the way, I still remember you got 2 cats :)

  8. The reduction is so true..
    year by year, keep asking to cut time charged by 20%.. by the way it goes.. in 5 years we can close eye and just sign the accounts blindly liao.. hahaha, maybe even then still need improvement.. hahaha, the speed of signing :P

    1. Hey Peroxide,

      Long time no see!

      That is why I prefer the 6-18 months time frame :)

      Entry/exit price +- 10% off not so critical. So fast finger not needed ;)

      Now slightly more active in the monthly futures with too much time on my hands.


  9. Hi SMOL
    Thanks for dropping by my blog earlier.

    It truly is a lot easier to complain about not having more instead of counting our blessings. Incidentally what the speaker said about writing down 3 things to be grateful each week and focused task is akin to one of the reasons i blog... and then save the whining for the ears of friends & family!

    To inner peace & happiness :)


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