We have the "happiness formula" backwards

Andrew Low

Most of us grew up with a notion, almost a life-long rule or formula in our head: “Work hard, become successful, then you’ll be happy.” — taught to us by our parents, teachers and peers.

Most, if not all of us, want to be happy.

So we chase after success, in the hope that contentment, satisfaction and bliss lurk just beyond the other side of getting into university, finishing university, landing a dream job, getting promoted in our dream job, making 6- even 7-figure salaries!

But for many chasers, both success and happiness remain out of reach.

And for those who do succeed, they never get to be truly happy — chasing after the next goal!

The problem is that we’ve got our happiness formula backwards.

It is true that achievement breeds satisfaction, elevated by a temporary rush of the achievement hormone, dopamine, and yes, we then feel happier before we chase the next high!

The thing is… this is only one half of the story.

Happiness researchers and neuroscientists have found that when we are happy, we are more creative, innovative and resourceful — qualities that make us more likely to succeed!

Are happy people more likely to perform well and succeed in their workplace? Relative to their peers, it appears so.

People who experience frequent positive emotions are more satisfied with their jobs, receive favourable reviews from their peers and supervisors, and are quicker problem-solvers, and more effective at thinking outside the box.

So in fact, feeling happy, in and of itself, makes us more likely to succeed.

Happy people receive greater social support from the people around them than unhappy people. Happy people are less likely to burn out, be absent, or quit their jobs.

Cross-sectional longitudinal research suggests that happy people enjoy better success than their less happy peers.

Imagine that!

The true formula might really be ”Be happy, then you’re more likely to be successful. And you can have both happiness AND success”

In other words, we are not just happy when we succeed.

We can feel happy on the way to success. In fact, this makes it even easier for us to succeed.

I’d say that’s a win-win, wouldn’t you?

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