Conventional wisdom is that success will lead to happiness. On the surface, it makes perfect sense. If I work hard and achieve my goals, I will be proud of myself and rewarded by the rest of the world.
The research just doesn’t support this idea. I loved Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage and popular Ted Talk about happiness at work.
Success doesn’t necessarily create happiness. Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of successful people with an awful lot of problems? I presume that celebrities with drug addictions and politicians having affairs aren’t really all that happy.
Success and achieving your goals will not make you happy.
It’s not that success can’t contribute at all to positive feelings. But instead of happiness, success often leads to setting an even higher goal. It’s never enough and you’re never happy because there’s always more to achieve. Achor’s research showed that happiness leads to greater success, not the other way around. A happy brain leads to greater creativity, productivity, energy.
Hmm…so, I’ve got to be happy before I can be successful. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you’re a perfectionist.
Here is my recipe for increasing happiness:
- Build social connections. In other words, have fun and spend quality time with family and friends. Make new friends if you feel isolated. Eat dinner as a family.
- Purposefully look for the good in your life and in the world. Create a simple gratitude practice of writing or sharing several positives every day. Seek out good news from a site like Huff Post Good News.
- Spend time in nature.
- Exercise regularly.
- Practice self-compassion. This just means be nice to yourself. Don’t put yourself down. Talk to yourself as you would a friend.
- Practice forgiveness. Actively work on forgiving both yourself and others.
- Meditate or create quiet time to clear your mind.
- Pursue a hobby just for fun.
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Originally Published on Psych Central