If you ask, most people are likely to say that success is what we are all after. There are societal norms that categorize success in terms of wealth, access, appearance and influence. We often look outward instead of inward to find our own definition of success.
Some of us obtain multiple degrees (cough), purchase large houses, lease expensive cars, take on challenging work assignments to gain additional job responsibilities, or stretch to earn annual raises and bonuses – none of which are necessarily bad by any measure. Can we say that such activities are guaranteed to bring happiness? I don’t think so.
Here are 3 reasons why you should seek happiness instead of success:
1) Happiness actually leads to success.
While we often think that the converse is true, happiness yields success. Shawn Anchor, positive psychologist and author of Before Happiness and The Happiness Advantage, suggests that success is a moving target that shifts as we reach our goals. According to Anchor, research shows that “being successful doesn’t automatically make you happier, but being happier – being more positive, makes you more successful.”
Anchor goes on to explain that a ‘happiness advantage’ is revealed if you can increase someone’s level of positivity. In raising this bar, the positive brain is more productive (31% more to be exact) than the neutral, negative or stressed brain.
2) Happiness is a choice.
In her book, The How of Happiness, professor Sonja Lyubomirsky asserts that up to 40% of happiness is within our power to change through the intentional activities that we can incorporate into our lives.
We can ultimately rise above our circumstances (e.g. who, what, where, etc) as well as our genetic predisposition for happiness by taking action and training ourselves to be more optimistic.
3) Happiness affects many areas of life.
Happiness can serve as a predictor of accomplishment. A 2005 research study conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ed Diener and Laura King showed that happiness positively impacts the achievement of goals in a variety of domains.
In a nutshell, they found that happy people are more likely to:
- get interviews
- earn higher salaries
- obtain high ratings from their supervisors
- have more friends
- volunteer to help others
- be healthier
- learn new skills
- engage in recreational pursuits
- live longer
Yes, you read that right: live longer. Can I just drop the mic at this point or what?
Ultimately success is directly linked to happiness as an outcome.
Just to be clear, hard work, dedication and perseverance absolutely matter, but should be considered in the context of the other parts of life that bring you fulfillment.
I encourage you to abandon the ‘I’ll be happy as soon as…’ mentality and choose happiness now to fully realize your vision for success!
Engineer Your Bliss Challenge: Focus on being happy instead of becoming successful.
Are you waiting to be happy? Please share your comments below.
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