Let’s talk about happiness. Until the last few years, I had a messed up view of being happy. For me, happiness was often in the future. I’ll struggle and work hard now so I can be happy when I finish graduate school . . . when I get a promotion . . . . when I quit my job and start my own practice . . . when my daughter is out of the terrible twos . . . when I have more money . . . and the list goes on and on. I’m sure many of you can relate to the “pursuit of happiness” mindset.
Several years ago I had a conversation with a childhood friend who had a lot of financial ups and downs in her adult life that really hit home. She too had always lived in the mindset of “life will be better when . . .” In our conversation she said that she realized that this was her life. She was tired of waiting to be happy and decided to be happy now, regardless of what her financial state.
That really struck me as truth. In the years since our conversation, I have read many things about applying Universal truths and spiritual principals to achieve success in money, business and life. All of them teach that happiness is the beginning state for success, not the end result. Start with being happy and success will follow.
Science has now started studying happiness. I recently listened to an interview with Shawn Anchor who studied happiness and optimism for 10 years at Harvard and is the author of The Happiness Advantage. He stated that happy/optimistic people are usually the most successful people. They found that when the brain is feeling happy, every output your brain performs increases. That means that you are more productive, more creative, more intelligent and you actually work faster and more focused. You have more access to your brain’s resources when you are happy.
He discussed the mirror neurons in the brain that act like a wireless network that connects all of us together. When we see someone smile, the mirror neurons begin to fire and we perceive ourselves as smiling and our brain dumps more dopamine (the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter) into our system and we feel better.
As a result of this wireless network we all are tapped into, he found that positive/ optimistic sales people out perform negative sales people by 56%. People perceive them as more charismatic and more attractive than negative sales people. This is exciting information to have because the reality is that if you are in business, you are in sales. So if you want more people to say “yes” to your products and services, then decide to be happy, feel optimistic and think positive.
The easiest way to be happy is to be grateful. Research has shown that you can’t be negative and grateful at the same time – the two simply cannot coexist in the mind and body at the same time. Happy people train their brain to be grateful by scanning their environment for the gifts, blessings and opportunities available to them. So here is an easy exercise to help you begin to focus on being happy now. First, make a list of 50 (yes, 50) things that you are grateful for and that give you pleasure and bring you happiness. Next, add at least 5 things to that list every day.
When you base happiness on achieving success first, then you have made happiness unreachable. Every time you reach a goal and experience success, you set another goal that you then attach happiness to and happiness becomes a moving target. So if you really want to be successful, use “the happiness advantage” and decide to be happy now, regardless of what is going on around you. You’ll be surprised at how easily and quickly success comes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article.