On a recent trip to Paris, my family and I had a picnic along the Seine. The view of boats cruising by Notre Dame at sunset was striking. We listened to the melodious French phrases dancing from the mouths of native Parisians. We tasted delicious French specialties including cheese made in a cave, juicy apricots grown in the South, and wine from vineyards in Provence.
What made this moment even more special was that my husband, his sister, her husband, a gaggle of kids, and I were all sharing the spoils of a day spent combing through markets and cheese shops. By using everyone’s special strengths (such as navigation skills and knowledge of the language) we were able to create a successful day, and by experiencing it together, we boosted everyone’s levels of social support, the greatest predictor of happiness.
When we take this recipe from a one-off vacation experience to everyday life, sharing resources and supporting others can have an even greater impact not only on our happiness but also on our success. In our work at the Institute for Applied Positive Research, we have found that those who are in the top quartile when it comes to supporting others at work (Work Altruists) are 40 percent more likely to receive a promotion in the next year.
We have found there are three main strategies for creating an interdependent mindset, one in which we see ourselves as part of a whole and share our resources, including special skills, talents, time, and attention. Here they are:
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MICHELLE GIELAN is founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research. When not traveling the world, Michelle and her husband Shawn Achor reside in Virginia with their baby son Leo.