“When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.”― Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage
In the pursuit of success, many of us do whatever it takes to get an edge over our competition and get closer towards our big goals. We postpone our happiness in the moment thinking that later on we’ll leverage our success and eventually arrive at a point where our accomplishments and accumulated wealth will bring us a certain level of happiness. However, this is not exactly how things work.
Happiness is not a by-product of working hard and achieving all your desired outcomes. On the contrary, happiness is one of the essential tools that you can use to increase your performance and productivity, and hence the quality of your life. In other words, happiness doesn’t come from success. Rather, your success depends on the level of your happiness.
Positive psychology reveals that when we feel good and have an optimistic attitude, we are smarter, more driven and enjoy more success. Negative emotions constrict our capacity to think and act well. You never make good choices and decisions when you’re down in the negativity vortex. On the flip side, positive emotions expand the range of possibilities in any given situation and open our minds to new ideas and opportunities.
If we look at this from a neurobiological perspective, it makes total sense. When we have a positive mindset and experience healthy emotions, our brains get flooded with two chemicals dopamine and serotonin, that both make us feel good and activate the regions in our brain that are responsible for learning by retaining new information, organizing it and more efficiently recalling it when needed. However, happiness has even more life-changing effects. If we study the results of happiness research from more than 200 scientific studies performed on nearly 275,000 people, we can safely conclude that happiness leads to success in almost all areas of our life, whether they be health, relationships, work, finances or creativity.
Most successful don’t see happiness as a reward for their hard work and accomplishments. Rather, they achieve success precisely because of their positive mindsets, which as we discussed before, position them to make the most of their lives. This competitive edge gained by feeling good, which then translates to better performance, is called the Happiness Advantage.
Anyone can achieve this Happiness Advantage, and a good place to start is by expressing gratitude for small, seemingly insignificant gems of positivity sprinkled throughout our daily life. These include things like having a hot cup of joe in the morning, a pleasant phone conversation with a friend, or watching a funny clip for your favorite sitcom. Then, you can take the next step which is to actively improve your mood by doing positivity exercises on a consistent basis. These exercises can be meditation or simply thinking about something you’re really looking forward to.
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