“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
“Don’t wait to be successful at some future point. Have a successful relationship with the present moment and be fully present in whatever you are doing. That is success.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
Most people see happiness as a destination. There are these set goals that are the stops along the way to happiness and if you’d just take the steps then happiness is waiting at the end of the rainbow like that big pot of gold. For example, people think, when I get married, when I make more money, when I loose 20 pounds, or when I retire I’ll finally be happy.
I hate to burst your bubble, but that kind of happiness is just as mythical as that pot of gold at the rainbow’s end. (Oh, and by the way, since it’s March I’ll myth bust another common Irish myth. Contrary to popular belief, if you catch a leprechaun he’s not compelled by fairy law to tell you where the gold is hidden either.)
Instead turn the formula on its head: happiness brings success. Don’t just take my word for it – there is a Harvard researcher named Shawn Achor who actually proved this cause and effect relationship.
Shawn found this when doing his research:
“If we can get somebody to raise their levels of optimism or deepen their social connection or raise happiness, turns out every single business and educational outcome we know how to test for improved dramatically. You can increase your success rates for the rest of your life and your happiness levels will flatline, but if you raise your level of happiness and deepen optimism it turns out every single one of your success rates rises drastically compared to what it would have been at negative, neutral or stressed.”
So, the question becomes, what steps can you take to raise your happiness levels? Let’s discuss some that Shawn outlines in his book, The Happiness Advantage.
#1 – See Obstacles as Challenges Instead of Threats
How you react under pressure has a direct relationship to your outcome. Who among us hasn’t had a freak out where we just lose it? Well what was the outcome? Was it all you wanted and more? Absolutely not!
By shifting your perspective to a challenge or puzzle to figure out instead of a big problem or obstacle to overcome you open up to the possibility of attracting help, answers, and even inspired ideas. Stress closes down your creativity; reacting with interest and curiosity instead of frustration and exasperation keeps your creative juices flowing strong.
#2 – Don’t Underestimate to Power of Your Knitting Circle, Book Club, or Girls Night Out Crew
When your sink is overflowing with dirty dishes, your email box is crammed full of unread urgent messages, and your to-do list looks like Santa’s gift list you may feel like retreating, hoping Calgon will take you away to some magical happy place.
Resist that urge to curl up in a dark room with the shades drawn. Get out there and have some fun with your friends to get your groove back. Want to bring it up a notch? Then take on the 5-minute favor challenge. If there is something nice you can do for someone else and it would only take you about 5 minutes then do it!
Your social interactiveness is a strong happiness booster; by adding in the extra endorphins of lending someone else a helping hand then you have a great stress busting recipe.
#3 – Cultivate Happy Habits
Do you have activities on your list that you want to do and know would help you, yet you just can’t seem to ever get around them? Things like meditating or exercising. Somehow the day gets gone and you realize you haven’t gotten around to either of them, yet again.
There is a way to set yourself up for success in just 20-seconds. In fact, the 20-seconds is the key. When it’s time to do one of these then do it within 20 seconds.
So, if you want to work out first thing in the morning, have your running shoes right by your bed so you can step right into them and be out the door. If you want to add meditation in your morning routine then have your meditation place set up and ready for you to head straight to when it’s time. Do not give yourself any more than 20 seconds between deciding to do it and doing it.
#4 – Send a “Thank You” email every morning.
People think happiness is the result of a big win, overlooking the power that small everyday practices have to bring us joy. Commit to sending some a ‘Thank You” email every day. Consider it your non-random random act of kindness. Notice how uplifting this one quick action is to your mood. Add in more little, powerful acts of kindness and really stack the deck in your favor. Your happiness is in direct proportion to how much happiness you spread to others. After all, you can’t share happiness without feeling it yourself.
By shifting your focus from outcome to journey you unlock the key to happiness. Most people believe success brings happiness. But when you flip that equation and discover that happiness brings success you have given yourself the gift of a magically delicious life.