We often believe that we’ll be happy once we have more money, get a better job, find the perfect partner, start a business or write a book. Then we reach a goal and, after a brief moment of elation, we think, ‘Is that all? Isn’t success supposed to lead me to lasting happiness?’
Happiness is a shortcut to success
A review of life successes of over 275,000 people by author Sonya Ljubomirsky shows that we have the relationship between success and happiness backwards. Success doesn’t necessarily bring happiness. Happiness brings success. Happy people with positive attitudes are more inclined to set goals, go for them and feel satisfaction along the way.
A leading happiness and success expert Shawn Anchor has reached the same conclusions in his research. Happiness increases your chances of success, not the other way around. It is not that your intelligence or your technical skills that predict your job success; in fact, 75 per cent of your success is pre-determined by your optimistic outlook, social support network and ability to manage stress in positive ways.
If you want to be successful, put your happiness first
Prioritising your happiness is not an act of selfishness, as many of us have been taught to believe. As you can see from the above research, when you are happy, you can make a bigger contribution to your work, your family and your community.
You might believe that you need to change your life drastically to experience happiness and that may not be practical right now. Please don’t let that stop you. Shawn Anchor’s work shows that your external circumstances only determine 10 per cent of your happiness level; the rest comes from your attitude. Here are some simple ways to start shifting your happiness set point today.
Take responsibility for your life
Don’t put the blame on your circumstances, but don’t blame yourself either. You did the best that you knew how to do in the past and now it’s time to move forward. Taking responsibility for your life means remembering that in every moment you have a choice and making that choice consciously.
Find joy in the journey, not the destination
If we were only happy when we achieved a major success, life would be miserable. We’d be happy only once every few months or years, or several times in a life time. Rather than expecting the big achievements to bring you happiness, focus on the joy in every little task that you do and celebrate every tiny success along the way.
Make time for meaningful relationships
Harvard’s longest research on happiness reveals that close relationships are the key to happiness and life satisfaction. Does social interaction also influence success in a positive way? Absolutely! Students leading an active social life in the midst of stress have reported improved learning. Meaningful social interactions will help you cope with challenges and grow your happy moments by sharing them with others.
Find your own supportive community and make a shift towards a more mindful, happier outlook at one of our retreats.
Tatiana is a freelance writer and a mum of three living in Sydney. After a 10-years’ break, she has just returned to full-time work. She is still finding time for yoga, meditation and mindfulness, which is making a huge difference to her sanity and her enjoyment of life.