In life, we often believe that we'll be happy only AFTER we have achieved success. For many, that would mean scoring straight 'A's in school, being promoted, buying that dream home, or having a million dollars in the bank.
To achieve that "holy grail" of happiness, we then work our butts off. However, when we achieve that target, we find that we need to move even higher to pursue the next quest - two million dollars, a higher promotion, or an even bigger home! While doing so, we grit our teeth and postpone our happiness as it becomes an ever elusive rainbow that we chase throughout our lives.
Apparently, that is the wrong way to go about it according to former Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor. In his book, "The Happiness Advantage", Shawn shares that it is "happiness that fuels success".
When our brains and our general emotional state is positive, we will be "more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work". In other words, the most successful people are often the most happy ones. Here, of course, success is not just defined in terms of material or organisational prominence alone.
Here's a short, witty and interesting talk which Shawn gave at TEDx on this topic.
For an animated version of the talk, check out this one by the RSA guys:
What can one do to get those "feel good" dopamines into one's system? Shawn shares the following tips (which are all backed by rigourous research!):
1) Start by sharing 3 things to be thankful for every day. Do this for a long enough period of time and let the flow of gratitudes influence your outlook in life.
2) Start journaling. Yes, blogging does count I suppose so you won't see me stopping my digital diatribes for a bit. I suppose this should also be a way for one to express those emotional angst while focusing on the positives.
3) Exercising is a great way to increase those dopamines and related "happy" hormones like endorphins. Nothing beats a nice leisurely jog, an hour or two of step aerobics, or a vigorous game of basketball.
4) Meditation is another technique for one to step away from the cares of the world and find inner tranquility.
5) Finally, perform random acts of kindness. Do good to a stranger whom you see on the street that needs help. Spreading the love around is a positive step in increasing the overflow of joy in your hearts.
Oh yes, having a social support network is also important. The people who thrive at work are those who have people that they can rely on to give them moral and professional strength when it matters.
Do you agree that happiness begets success as opposed to success begeting happiness?