Does feeling happy produce success or does success produce happiness? Achor, in his book, The Happiness Advantage’, is a big proponent of the former, and it makes sense to me. If you start your day with a positive or happy baseline, aren’t you more productive, positive and grateful? If there are bumps in the road, they can be handled from a position of strength because your mindset is one of positivity and you’ve built up reserves to get you through.
“Happiness causes success and achievement”
Happiness is difficult to define because the definition is different for each of us. For example, happiness to me is finishing a project well, getting everything on my to-do list completed or training my dog to do or not do a certain behavior. Happiness for you will be what’s important to you. If I achieve all the things mentioned above, then I can and most likely will build on that to achieve even more goals and achieving our goals is success – right?
We’ve all heard the adages, ‘keep your nose to the grindstone’, ‘I’ll be happy when I…’, ‘work hard and you’ll be a success’. These sayings are telling us we won’t be happy until we reach some specific goal. So if it takes 10 or even 2 years to advance your career or consider yourself a success, are you not supposed to be happy along the way?
My mom said to me many times to ‘work hard’. That is what that ‘greatest’ generation knew. I considered the advice to be wise and it helped me. I can still work hard from a place of being joyful about my work-not as being a grind or a duty. [Side note here – observing some from the millennial generation, it seems like this group is very ‘into’ being happy and fulfilled with their work, which is great. What I’ve also seen, which is a bit disturbing, is their unwillingness to take a job that is ‘beneath’ them or not to their liking, even though they may have bills and responsibilities that are being neglected because they aren’t ‘fulfilled’. Taking a job in order to fulfill your responsibilities should bring satisfaction that you can support yourself while realizing it’s a temporary thing. I also believe that looking back at these types of jobs we’ve had builds a lot of character and we may even recall those jobs with fondness down the road. (I know I have.) Side note is over!].
“When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, more motivated and thus more successful.”
So how do we make ourselves happy and raise our happiness baseline? As I said in last week’s introduction, I need concrete steps to take, so here are 7 concrete things (from the book), we can do (additional comments from me):
Meditate – even 5 minutes a day can help. There are lots of scriptures in Psalms on meditating – Psalms 1:2 “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Start your day with scripture. I also like Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Look forward to something. Love this one – I’m not thinking about big things either…it’s the little things!
Do conscious acts of kindness. Get your mind off yourself and serve others. This will probably put in perspective the things happening with you.
Infuse happiness into your surroundings – what does your workspace look like?
Exercise – we all need it, get out and walk every day.
Spend money – but not on stuff, spend it on time with a friend, spouse an activity.
Perform a signature strength via http://survey.org. (this site is being relaunched – so not online now). You could also check out strengthsfinder.com – an online survey (paid) that assesses your strengths.
Fun Leads To Bottom-Line Results
Many Silicon Valley companies have perks that include bringing your dog to work, free food, workout facilities, games. They’ve realized that when employees are happy, they are more creative and produce more work AND they stay at work longer! These practices are being implemented around the country here and there. Studies have shown that people want to feel valued and recognized in their jobs – they want to feel like they are really contributing something. Smart employers regularly recognize their employees in front of their peers. Salary and money is important, but getting positive reinforcement and recognition makes the employee want to do even more and better.
Studies have shown (this is from the book), that “When positive emotions flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that not only make us feel good, but dial up the learning centers of our brains to higher levels. They help us organize new information, keep that information in the brain longer and retrieve it faster later on…we think more quickly and creatively…invent new ways of doing something”.
Are you in a position of influence or management? Most of us probably think we’re not, but if you’re a parent, you have great influence on your children (whether it seems like it or not). Even if that title isn’t after your name, think of all the interactions you have on a daily basis and the opportunities to build others up.
The book has many real-life examples and I keep remembering one where Achor relates the story of a boss going to his employee shortly before he’s going to present to a client and saying words to the effect – “this account is critical, don’t mess it up”. I’m sure he meant it as encouragement, but what do you think went through the guy’s mind? Achor suggests thinking about very positive past experiences or having an upbeat conversation with someone right before going into the room is what should be done. Having a positive experience right before you’re in the spotlight gives you a positive emotional boost.
So do something positive – something that broadens your happiness baseline – before talking to a group, a prospective client, an interview. Your frame of mind will be primed to handle whatever may come up much better.
What are some happiness tips you can pass along that give your day a boost. Leave a comment!
Next week is ‘The Fulcrum and The Lever’.