Thomas Edison might have been estimating when he calculated that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, but he had a point. Most of our success stems from the hard work we put in ahead of time. That last percentage point is tricky, though. How much of an impact can inspiration really make on results?
Would you believe 12%?
Researchers at University of Warwick have uncovered a compelling link between happiness and productivity: more of the former leads to an increase in the latter. Happiness, in this case, is defined as the improvement in mood triggered by either watching a clip of a famous comedian or being given fruit and chocolate. Productivity was measured through a series of numerical addition problems and GMAT-style math questions. Simply put, subjects who reported an increase in happiness from baseline did better on the assigned tasks.
According to this research, the inverse also applies. Lower happiness resulting from personal tragedies like bereavement or family illness is systematically associated with lower productivity.
These findings, encouraging though they are, still leave much to explore, especially the questions of how long productivity increases last and which comedians might inspire the greatest productivity. But the implications of this research deserve immediate application: keep your kids positive as they head into big tests. Even better, surprise them with small treats at strategic times. Science is finally catching up to what many of us have known in our hearts all along: a little chocolate goes a long way!