How do you define the meaning of happiness?
Is it success that makes the happiest people in the world the way they are? Or does success COME to those who are happy?
It sort of sounds like one of those chicken/egg questions. Are genuinely HAPPY people always successful people? Or is it ‘success’ that makes us happy?
As a wellness coach, I hear it often: I will be happy WHEN I have the dream job, when I look a certain way, when I have my soul mate. There are often factors we place on “finding happiness” – as if it is illusive, something that is HARD to find.
And then we think that when we DO find it, everything will fall into place. We will have the dream job, lots of money, the amazing partner and friends, be a picture of health and THEN, of course, we will be happy.
Sorry to break it to you guys, but extensive research has found it is actually the other way around.
That in order to be successful – whatever that looks like to you – you must first be happy. Regardless of your life circumstances.
This is spoken about in depth in The Happiness Advantage by Harvard professor Shawn Achor. In his years of studying positive psychology – and what makes happy people happy – he uncovered that happiness actually fuels success, and not the other way around.
“When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work.”
In a world where stress is celebrated, and being ‘busy’ is the norm, The Happiness Advantage teaches that to really succeed in life, you must first cultivate a positive attitude – even in the most dire of circumstances. And that is not to say to resist emotions as they arise – things like anger or sadness. These are very real human experiences.
However, when it comes to the “glass half empty” mentality – the lesson is to train yourself to see it as half full, as often as you can. The more you can do this, the more happiness will seep into your life. The happier you are – the more successful you become.
You look at life a different way – you see opportunity instead of obstacles, you take care of yourself and therefore cultivate great health.
Think about the happiest people you know. Chances are they are also quite successful. But that their happiness came BEFORE any success. Their mentality lead to their success.
Here are some simple ways to cultivate more happiness in your life – REGARDLESS of what your life currently looks like. Introduce them and watch how success flows freely your way.
Acts of kindness
The simple act of doing something for someone else – be it a loved one, or even better, a stranger, cultivates feel-good hormones and leaves you feeling totally elated for no other reason than making someone’s day.
I experienced this first-hand in Florence last year when a kind stranger at the table next to us paid for our entire meal for my birthday.
That simple act has left me feeling grateful even a year later – and all he asked was for us to ‘pay it forward’. I now pay it forward every chance I get – and not only because it makes someone ELSE feel good, but it makes YOU feel good too.
Try it! It is as easy as leaving an extra five dollars at your next coffee date, to pay for the person behind you. Watch how great it makes you AND them feel.
This is a biggie. Start to train your mind into stillness – rather than rushing, and stressing and worrying – regular meditation allows us to tap into silence, and just practice ‘being’.
When you start your day in meditation, you will find moments of presence and mindfulness become regular occurrences throughout your day – even on a subconscious level. This is the end goal – finding these nuggets of time where you allow yourself to just ‘be’ in the present moment.
Because in that moment there is no stress or drama or sadness. There is just you. (Getting deep here guys! If you want to start out meditating, try the Insight Timer app!)
Read some of our stress management techniques here
Just not on THINGS. Spend your money on experiences. Moments that will make you laugh (like a comedy night), create memories (like a weekend away with your partner) or change your life (like that overseas trip you have been putting off).
Stop making excuses – time is not a guarantee. You have NO IDEA when your last day on Earth is, so why do we wait to do the things our heart desires? I say that is crazy. And definitely not the way to live a happy life.
Book the ticket, buy the experience and create the memories that will last a lot longer than your next designer handbag. (Plus, the element of excitement in the lead up to a big event or experience is the ultimate goal – how good does it feel when you are looking forward to something?!)
Don’t write a book, write a page
As in: make your goals SUPER EASY. So easy, that there is NO EXCUSE to not achieve them. Rather than setting a HUGE goal that feels unattainable and unrealistic (and that you beat yourself up over when you don’t achieve it) – set tiny goals that are almost too easy. Write the first sentence of your book.
Make a healthy dinner tonight. Get yourself to bed 5 minutes earlier. These tiny goals, when accomplished, will leave you feeling motivated, inspired and ready to stretch them out even further, which means you are far more likely to achieve the ‘bigger picture’ goal.
Happy people know this – they celebrate their minor achievements, and then strive for more, rather than pushing and testing themselves, and then feeling guilty when they don’t get there. Remember it is about the journey, not the destination.
Read out to tips making and achieve goals here
Of course, gratitude makes the cut. Training your brain to think positive is the end goal, after all. Start your day listing three things you are really grateful for – and end it doing the same. Speak your gratitude’s aloud with your family, share with your friends how happy they make you.
When you start to cultivate a positive dialogue in your own life, it will seep into the words you speak and the thoughts you have – literally forcing you to vibrate at a higher energetic frequency, and therefore attracting more of the goods! Why the heck AREN’T you practicing gratitude when it has such amazing benefits – and is so damn easy?!
Do you consider yourself a happy person? Has it made you successful in your life?