May 10, 2010

431 words 3 mins read

How Happiness Makes You Better

Earlier, I wrote about a little trick for making your day a little happier than it otherwise would have been. Now, there are a lot of reasons why I should wish to make you happier. But I have to admit that there’s something in it for me.

No, I don’t get 3 cents every time someone registers on But as a member of several grassroots organizations trying to change America, I want my teammates to be in the best possible spirits. For one thing, happier people are usually more fun to be around. More importantly, though, science tells us that happier people perform better.

The Physician Study

Happiness improves mental (cognitive) task performance. In one study, doctors were given a test. The physicians had to diagnose conditions based on symptoms as quickly as possible. They were graded on speed and accuracy. But first, the doctors were segmented into 3 groups. Group A was primed for happiness. Group B was primed for cognition by reading descriptions of the very diseases they were about to diagnose. Group C was not primed at all.

The results?

Groups B and C performed about the same. But the doctors primed to be happy blew them both out of the water. Group A was 50 percent fast and 80 percent more accurate. So if you’re sick, find the happiest doctor, not the smartest one.

And How Does This Apply to the Grassroots?

Over a year ago, I started drawing a rough chart of how our moods should change over time:

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When we started on February 27, 2009, we were full of anger. Our solutions were very simple: gather and shout.

By election day 2010, we need to be mostly solutions. Solutions are much more difficult to advance than anger is to express. That’s why a lot of people feel lost and argumentative right now. In fact, I think some folks are resisting the change from high anger to high solutions. That’s understandable, too. But it’s not good enough.

For the rest of 2010, we need to execute a strategy that results in more people voting for liberty than for despotism. That requires everyone on the right being on top of his or her game. Like the doctors who were 50 percent faster and 80 percent more accurate, must execute with minimal friction. Anger and in-fighting are the worst kind of friction.

So try happiness for 21 days. If you don’t like it, you can also get pissed off at me and return it for a full refund of rancor. But I know you’ll like happy better.