Happiness. I want it. You want it. Barack Obama and Nicki Minaj want it. It’s the number one motivator for everyone. We might not be consciously aware of it, but all our goals and dreams of success have one thing in common: We believe that they’ll bring us happiness.
That’s why we take the leap and go out on the adventure to live our dreams. It’s the reason others chase shiny objects and bigger paychecks. We believe that if we could just achieve this one more thing, we will finally be happy.
We believe that happiness follows success.
But we got it all wrong.
Or to be precise; we got it backwards.
Check this: World-class Harvard professor and positive psychologist Shawn Achor says that happiness precedes success. Let me repeat that:
Happiness comes before success. In other words:
Happy people are more likely to be successful (however you define that).
This is quite a big deal. When you consider the fact that most people chase happiness their whole life (whether they know it or not) and do all sorts of funny things to be happy, this literally is a game changer.
Now in case you’ve never heard of positive psychology; it’s a revolutionary new approach to traditional psychology. Positive psychologists don’t focus on curing mental illnesses. Instead they’re trying to help normal people become happy. While a traditional psychologist would focus on getting a person from a negative ten to a zero on the happiness scale, positive psychologists try to get them from a zero to a positive ten. These guys literally study happiness.
If you want to learn more about positive psychology I suggest that you make yourself some tea, sit back and watch this great talk by Tal-Ben Shahar, a former colleague of our Mr. Achor, where he explains the greatest hits of positive psychology.
Back to Mr. Achor and his claim that happiness precedes success. Here’s how he explains it in his book The Happiness Advantage:
“More than a decade of groundbreaking research in the fields of positive psychology and neuroscience has proven in no uncertain terms that the relationship between success and happiness works the other way around.
Thanks to this cutting-edge science, we now know that happiness is the *precursor* to success, not merely the result. And that happiness and optimism actually fuel performance and achievement — giving us the competitive edge that I call the Happiness Advantage.
It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive. When we are happy — when our mindset and mood are positive — we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful.”
There you have it: Happiness comes first, success follows.
Now what does this mean for us, the as we’re going after our dreams and goals?Two things:
- If we’re serious about our success, we need to make happiness our #1 priority.
- We don’t need to chase happiness. We don’t have to achieve that one more thing in order to be happy. Rather we should focus on doing things that make us happy now, instead of postponing it to the future.
Think about it: If we’re serious about creating the life of our dreams we *must* make happiness a priority. Science has proven that it makes it more likely that we reach our dreams, plus it’ll naturally make the journey a lot more fun. Bonus!
It’s so easy to slip into thinking that you won’t be happy until you have reached your goal.
And what happens then? You pack a ton of things on your plate, you work your socks off and one day you find yourself so stressed out and overwhelmed that you wanna call it quits, crawl into bed and sleep until New Year’s Eve.
So I urge you to make happiness a priority now. Not when you “get there”. How do you make happiness a priority? You commit to doing stuff now that will make you happy, and stop postponing it to someday.
Here’s what you can do right now to make that shift. Ask yourself:
What small, easy thing can I do today to feel good?
That could be anything from eating ice cream in the park to finally donating that box of stuff that has been cluttering your living room for ages.
Doing small things like that can make all the difference in how we feel throughout the day, which makes it easier to tackle the big vision stuff to make happiness possible in the long term.
In the comments below, let us know what your little feel good thing is gonna be for today. And then, just go do it.