It is an age-old question. We use it when pondering some of conundrums of life—which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well of course you know the chicken came first. But what about success and happiness? Is there a happiness advantage?
Are you happy because you are successful, or are you successful because you are happy? Many people, maybe most people, think success leads to happiness, but it actually is the other way around.
Happiness Fuels Success
Based on a decade of research on positive psychology and neuroscience, Shawn Achor found that happiness fuels the rate and trajectory of success.
In his book, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Achor, describes an advantage that people cultivate from being happy and possessing positive emotions. In his article Positive Intelligence that appeared in the HBR, Achor cites how individuals were able to set themselves up for success in the workplace by cultivating their own sense of well being.
Benefits of Fostering the Happiness Advantage
Fostering, contributing to, working in and living in cultures that are positive generate significant benefits.
Positive emotions have been shown to produce:
- 3 times more creativity
- 31% higher productivity
- 23% fewer fatigue symptoms
- 37% greater sales
- 40% more likely to get a promotion
- 10 times more engaged
- Cultivating Positive Emotions
In less than 5 minutes a day, you can cultivate positive emotions that lead to greater well being and success.
For seven days, simply write down and track three good things (things you are grateful for).
It is that simple. What more than a decade of empirical studies has proven is that seeing the good, recognizing what is good and consciously being thankful has a profound effect on the way our brains are wired.
Train Your Brain
We will spend countless hours and invest significant monies pursuing the development of a skill/hobby and improving our health through diet and exercise.
These investments are easy to track and see visible results. But training our brains is seemingly nebulous and won’t produce the immediate observable results we crave.
Training our brains requires us to be both aware of what we are thinking and how we are thinking. Thinking that shapes a self-portrait we can never outperform.
The key to raising our performance is to raise our thinking. When we elevate our thinking we can positive change the trajectory of our life. We elevate our thinking by training our brain to recognize and relish what is good in and around us.
Healthy Brain Food
We are bombarded daily with news we should give up. Rather than catalog our experiences as data to learn and grow from we use them to frame our limits and shrink our expectations.
We unconsciously provide our brain with a steady diet of thoughts that shields us from seeing our potential. Changing our thinking is not hard—it simply requires awareness and a bit of effort.
You can positively change your thinking with one daily action that will only take a few moments. Start your day by writing down three good things that either happened to you or you noticed in the last 24 hours.
"The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life."
Write these three things in a journal or on your Starbucks cup. Scratch them out on a napkin and stick it in your pocket. The act of thinking about what is good and writing them down is powerful.
Benefits of Brain Training
The research showed that people who took part in these studies experienced three positive changes.
- Helped people be more productive and successful.
- Increased personal wellness.
- Elevated positive emotions from even depressed levels.
"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."
The Happiness Advantage
There is good all around us. Even in the midst of the greatest challenges in our lives we can discover the seed of something good. By taking every thought captive, we grow in self-awareness that is the seed of great joy and happiness.
None of us can control the life’s ever changing and vacillating circumstances. But we can cultivate the habit of happiness by finding the good in our circumstances and taking the next best, right step.
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