Photo by Rishi S
Photo by Rishi S

Photo by Rishi S

We’ve got it backwards: happiness leads to success, not the other way around.

In the book The Happiness Advantage by Psychologist Shawn Achor, he lays out the scientific evidence:

– Positive-thinking doctors make accurate diagnoses 19% faster

– Optimistic salespeople outsell others by 56%

– Students primed to feel happy before tests outperform their peers.

– Happier people live longer

– Positive employees get better reviews and higher pay.

– Positive thinking makes our brains significantly more open to learning and more productive.

The book teaches that infusing small bursts happiness is all it takes. Effective happiness boosters include:

– spend 20 minutes outside in good weather

– commit an act of kindness

– reflect on something you’re grateful for

– put something on your calendar to look forward to.

This rings true to me.

Surely some clever critic will argue against the effectiveness of a “happiness practice”, just as there is another side to many “be better” recommendations. Think about the debates around eating organic food, putting children in multiple extra curricular activities, company work-from-home policies….people have strong opinions about this stuff on both sides of the debate!

Here’s what’s different about this “be-happy” improvement tactic: There is absolutely no down side. Go ahead, poke holes in the science, but you can’t convince me it’s not worth a try. Why shouldn’t we all add more happy moments to our day for no reason but to have more happy moments in our day? Why shouldn’t our office strive to be a happier place for the sake of creating a more positive feel when you’re there? And if it causes a wave of success-boosting side-effects –bonus! Both the Dreamer and the Realist in me agree it’s both possible and probable.