Saturday, September 24, 2011

Does Thinking Happy Thoughts Improve Test Scores?

Do you remember the Charles Schultz book, Happiness Is A Warm Puppy?  It was one of my favorites when it  was published in the 1962 and now it turns out that being happy not only makes us feel warm and fuzzy but it also increases our performance on tasks.  Yes, you read that right, just by being happy, students can  significantly improve their performance on a test.  I'm reading the book The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor who spent over a decade at Harvard researching happiness and the effect the emotion has on our lives.  In one study that he reports on, four year olds were asked to complete a series of learning tasks such as putting together blocks of different shapes.  The first group was simply given the instruction to complete the task as quickly as possible.  The second group however was first asked to spend a brief time thinking about something that made them happy.  Who knows if what they thought about was a warm puppy or the fruit roll-up they brought for snack, but the amazing result was that the second group significantly out-performed the first group on the task.  In another study, students who were asked to think of the happiest day of their lives right before a standardized math test, out performed their peers as well.  This isn't to say of course that we can replace instruction with sitting around and thinking happy thoughts all day.  However, the implication is powerful.  What a difference can we make in students' performance with a few moments of  thinking about what makes them happy! Looks like Charles Schultz was on to something after all...


  1. Hi Lynne - I'm not surprised in the least..Happiness is a subject that has fascinated me in the last few years, and I've figured out for myself that I can get through most situations with flying colors when I'm happy with good old me :)

  2. So simple, yet incredibly profound, Lynne. It makes perfect sense that we are at our best when we are happy and content with ourselves and the place in which we find ourselves. I know when I'm feeling down about something, I find it nigh impossible to put one foot in front of the other, let alone write or be creative in any way.
    It's all in the attitude - let happiness reign!:)

  3. I'm not at all surprised -- makes perfect sense. Thanks for promoting this information! The more people who get this the better ;-)

  4. Thanks for the comments. It does make sense but so often we lose perspective of how powerful our emotions are and how much control we have over them with our thinking!