THE MASTER KEY MASTERMIND ALLIANCE can take you far – as far as your imagination is able – and most likely farther than you can imagine! Imagine that, and you’ve got the start of a fable. The kind of story told in olden times at a large Christmas table. Heroes there were 3, and guess what…one of them is me. Fawn and Stevo round out this galant MM trio. Together we are “tipping point, ” the name you’ve come to know. Off to save this world you see to the best of our combined ability; in the beginning so very slow. Yet, faster and faster as we went, we chipped away the Earth’s cement. To expose with the final peel the finest gold we’d ever seen! As does the part reveal the whole, such did the whole reveal the part; can you guess what this might mean? It meant far more than words can say I — so go, I must, and ask, may I?



Sometimes, after you make some changes, it’s time to just feel freaking happy about that. Now, as you hear the Harvard study regarding this, I want you to R2 A2. R2 A2 what he says. Let it touch you. Give yourself permission to say, “I chose to do this class. I dug in, when the going got tough.” Remember, what Lisa Anderson said: “If you can get through the ups and downs, this is one of the remarkable results.” So, sit back, and enjoy this Ted video. Feel great! Feel happy! Feel that the decisions you made to do this, and stick with it, have been validated!

“HI! I’M TED.”


 Translated by: Shawn Achor

Bloomington Illinois – May 14, 2011


I was seven years old, and my sister was just five years old, and we were playing – on top of a bunk bed – now, I was two years older than her at the time – I mean, I’m two years older than that she is now – but at the time, it meant she had to do everything I wanted her to do and, and I wanted to play war. So, we were on top of the bunkbed, and on one side of the bunk bed I had put out all of my G.I. soldiers, and my weaponry – while on the other side were all of my sister’s ponies and things getting ready for a calvary charge.

Now, there are differing accounts about what actually happened that afternoon; however, since my sister is not here, let me tell you the true story. Which is, my sister is a little bit on the clumsy side, and with no push from her little brother at all, suddenly disappeared off the top of the bunk-bed, and landed with a crash on the floor.

And as I nervously peered over the side of the bed to see what had befallen my fallen sister, and noticed that she had painfully landed on her hands and knees on all fours on the ground. I was nervous, because my parents had charged me with making sure my sister and I played as safely and quietly as possible. And seeing as how I had just broken Amy’s arm one week before. heroically, pushing her out of the way of an oncoming, imaginary sniper bullet – for which, I have yet to be thanked – I was trying as hard as I could – she didn’t even see it coming – I was trying as hard as I could to be on my best behavior and…

…with this wail of pain and suffering and surprise threatening to erupt from my sisters mouth and threatening to wake my parents from the long winter’s nap to which they had settled; I did the only thing my frantic seven-year-old little brain could think to do to avert this tragedy — and if you have any children, then you’ve seen this hundreds of times before — I told her “Amy, don’t cry, don’t cry, do you see how you landed? No human lands on all fours like that. Amy, I think this means you are a unicorn.”

Now, that was cheating, because there is nothing in the world my sister would want more than not be Amy, the hurt little five-year-old sister, but rather, Amy, the special unicorn. Of course, this was an option open to her brain at no time in the past; and, you could see on my poor, manipulated little sister’s face, conflict, as her little brain attempted to devote resources to feeling the pain, and suffering, and surprise, she had just experienced, or contemplate her newfound identity as a unicorn. And the latter won out. So, instead of crying, ceasing our playing, and waking my parents — with all of the negative consequences that would have ensued for me, smiles ran across her face, and she scrambled back up onto the bunk-bed with all of the grace of a baby unicorn – with one broken leg.

Well, what we had stumbled across at this tender age of just five and seven, we had no idea at the time, was something that was going to be at the vanguard of a scientific revolution, occurring two decades later, in the way that we look at the human brain. What we had stumbled across is something called positive psychology. Which is the reason we are here today, and the reason I wake up every morning.

When I first started talking about this research outside academia in schools and companies, one thing they told me to never do was to start my talk with a graph. So, the very first thing I want to do is to start my talk with a graph. It looks boring, but it is the reason I get excited and wake up each morning. And this graph doesn’t mean anything. It’s fake data. If I got this graph back after studying you here in the room, I would be thrilled, because it very clearly shows there is a trend here – and that means I can get published — which is all that really matters.

The fact that there is one weird red dot above the curve means there’s someone weird in the room – and you know who you are. I saw you earlier. And that’s no problem. That’s no problem because I can just delete that dot. I can delete that dot, because it is clearly a measurement error. And we know it’s a measurement error, because it is messing up my data. So one of the very first things we teach people in economics and statistics and business and psychology courses is how do we, in a statistically valid way, eliminate the weirdos. How do we eliminate the outliers, so we can find the line of best fit.

Which is fantastic, if we are looking for how many advil, on average, a person should be taking: 2. But if I’m interested in potential – your potential for happiness or productivity or energy or creativity, what we are doing is creating the cult of the average for science. If I ask a a question like “how fast can a child learn how to read in a classroom, scientists change the question to how fast can the average child learn how to read in that classroom, and we tailor that classroom right towards the average.

Now if you fall below the average on this curve, then psychologists get thrilled. Because it means you are either depressed, have a disorder, or, hopefully, both. Were hoping for both, because our business model is if you are coming into a therapy session with one problem, we want to make sure you leave knowing you have 10. So you will keep coming back, over and over again. We will go back ln your childhood if necessary, but, eventually, what we want to do is make you normal again. But normal is merely average.

And what I posit, and what psychology posits is: if we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average. So instead of deleting those positive outliers, what I essentially do is come into a population like this one, and ask “why?” Why is it some of you are so high above the curve in terms of your intellectual ability, athletic ability, musical ability, creativity, energy levels, resiliency in the face of challenge, sense of humor, whatever it is? Instead of deleting you, what I want to do is study you. Because maybe we can glean information – not just move people up to the average – but how to move the entire average, up — in our companies and schools worldwide.

The reason this graph is important to me is when I turn on the news, it seems like the majority of the information is not positive. In fact, it’s negative. Most of it is about murder, corruption, diseases, natural disasters, and very quickly my brain begins to think that’s the accurate ratio of negative to positive in the world. And what that’s doing is creating something called the medical student syndrome. Which, if you know people who have been to medical school in their first year of medical training, as you read through a list of all the diseases and symptoms that could happen, you realize you have all of them.

I have a brother-in-law named, Bobo. Which is a whole other story. Bobo married Amy, the unicorn. Bobo called me on the phone from Yale medical school. From Yale medical school, and Bobo said, “I have leprosy.” Which, even at Yale, is extraordinarily rare. But I had no idea how to console poor Bobo, because he had just gotten over an entire week of menopause.

Because what we’re finding it is not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which our brain views the world that shapes our reality. So, if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single business and educational outcome at the same time. When I applied to Harvard, I applied on a dare. When I applied to Harvard, I didn’t expect to get it. My family had no money for college. When I got a military scholarship two weeks later, they allowed me to go. Suddenly, something that wasn’t even a possibility, became a reality.

When I went there, I assumed everyone else would see it as a privilege as well. Which made me excited to be there, even if you’re in a classroom filled with people smarter than you, you would be happy just to be in that classroom. Which is what I felt. But what I found there is, while some people experience that, when I graduated after my four years, and spent the next eight years living in the dorms with the students, because they asked me to. Harvard asked me to – it wasn’t that guy. (On the screen is a statue sitting on a bench) 

I was an officer asked to counsel students through the difficult four years; and what I found was in my research and my teaching was the students, no matter how happy they were with their original success of getting into the school, two weeks later their brains were not focused on the privilege of being there, but on their philosophy or their physics. Their brain was focused on the competition, the workload, the hassles, the stresses, the complaints.

When I first went in there, I walk into the freshman dining hall, which is where my friends from Waco Texas, which is where I grew up. I know some of you have heard of it. When they come to visit me, they look around and say this freshman dining hall looks like something out of Hogwarts in the movie, Harry Potter – which it does, because this is Hogwarts

                HARVARD DINING

in the movie Harry Potter, and this is Harvard (on the screen is a picture of each).They say “Shawn, why are you wasting time studying happiness at Harvard. Seriously, what does a freshman student at Harvard possibly have to be unhappy about?”

Embedded within that question, is the


key to understanding the science of happiness. Because what that question assumes is our external world is predictive of our happiness levels. When, in reality, if I know everything about your external world, I can predict only 10% of your long-term happiness.

90% of your happiness is predicted, not by your external world, but the way your brain processes the world. If we change it. If we change our formula for happiness and success, what we can do is change the way that we can then affect reality. What we found is only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ. While 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge, instead of as a threat.

I talked to a boarding school in New England, probably the most prestigious boarding school, and they said that they already knew that. So, every year, instead of just teaching our students, we have a wellness week. And we are so excited. On Monday, we have the world’s leading expert coming to speak on adolescent depression. Tuesday, it’s school violence and bullying. Wednesday, is eating disorders. Thursday night is illicit drug use, and Friday night we are trying to decide between risky sex and happiness. And I said that is most people’s Friday nights.

Which I’m glad you like, but they did not like that at all. Silence on the phone. And at the end of the silence, I said I would be happy to speak at your school, but just so you know, that is not a wellness week, that is a sickness week. What you have done is outlined all the negative things that can happen, but have not talked about the positive.

The absence of disease is not health. Here’s how we get to health. We need to reverse the formula for happiness and health. For the past three years, I have traveled to 45 different countries working with schools and companies in the midst of an economic downturn. And what I have found is most schools and companies follow a formula for happiness and success, which is this: if I work harder, I will be more successful. And if I am more successful, then I will be happier.

That under-girds most of our parenting styles, managing styles, the way we motivate behavior, and the problem is it is scientifically broken and backwards for two reasons: first, every time your brain has a success, we just change the goalpost to what success now looks like. If you get good grades, now you’ve got to get better grades. If you get to go to a good school, now you got to go to a better school. If you’ve got a good job, now you’ve got to get a better job. If you get yours sales target, then you change your sales target – and if you’re happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there.

What we’ve done is push happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society – and that’s because we think we need to be successful, and then we will be happier. But the real problem is, our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise someone’s positivity in the present, then what your brain experiences is what we call a “happiness advantage.” Because your brain, when it is at positive, performs significantly better than it does when it is at negative, neutral, or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. And, in fact, what we’ve found is every single business outcome improves. Your brain is 31% more productive than it is when at negative, neutral, or stressed. You’re 37% better at say, sales. Doctors are 19% faster and more accurate in coming up with the correct diagnosis, than when they are at negative, neutral, or stressed.

Which means, we can reverse the formula. If we can find a way to become more positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully. As we are able to work harder, faster, and more intelligently. So, what we need to do is start to reverse this formula, so what we can see is what our brains are actually capable of. Because dopamine, which floods into your system when you’re positive, has two functions: not only is it able to make you happier, it turns on all the learning centers in the brain, allowing you to adapt to the world in a different way.

We found that there are ways to train your brain to become more positive. In a two-minute span of time, done 21 days in a row, we can actually rewire your brain. Allowing your brain to actually work more optimistically and successfully. We’ve done these things in research in every company I’ve worked with.

1. Getting them to write down three new things they are grateful for —  for 21 days in a row. Three new things each day. And at the end of that, their brain begins to retain a pattern of scanning the world, not for the negative first, but the positive. 2. Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had in the past 24 hours, allows your brain to re-live it. 3. Exercise trains your brain your behavior matters. 4. We found that meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADH we’ve been creating, by trying to do multiple tasks at once. Which allows your brain to focus on the task at hand. 5. And finally either random acts of kindness, or conscious acts of kindness.

When people open up their inbox, we get them to write one positive email praising or thanking someone in their social support network. And by doing these activities, and by training your brain, just like the way we train our bodies, what we found we can reverse the formula for happiness and success; and, in doing so, not only create ripples of positivity, but create a real revolution.

Thank you very much!

And thank you, Ted…Shawn…Ted…for one of the finest presentations I’ve ever heard said. Whatever is gained, a lot is lost in translation; so, I suggest using the heading at the top of this piece to find the real deal providing the text you’ve just read. It’s worth the trip!!! In fact, it’s a steal!!!



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Jordan sings, Leonid paints.

Monkeys are seldom seen in this neck of the woods!

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