Does success at work lead to happiness? Or is it the opposite – does happiness lead to work success?

This Ted Talk that explores this questions and (convincingly) argues the latter…

Happiness at work – a few stats…

  • 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat. Only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ.
  • 90% of your long-term happiness is not predicted by your external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.

Most companies and schools follow the following formula for success – “If I work harder, I’ll be more successful. If I’m more successful then I’ll be happier.” That under girds our management styles, parenting styles, lifestyles and behavior.  2 reasons why that’s scientifically incorrect –

  1. Every time your brain has a ‘success’, you just change the goalpost of what success looks like (get good grades…now you have to get better grades, etc). If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there.
  2. It actually works the other way. When you raise a person’s level of positivity, their brain experiences a ‘happiness advantage’ and your brain ‘at positive’ performs significantly better. Intelligence, creativity, energy levels all rise. On an organizational level, every single business outcome improves. Your brain ‘at positive’ is 31% better than your brain at negative, neutral, or stressed.

How do you reach this ‘happiness advantage’? A few practical steps…

  • 3 Gratitudes – Three new things your thankful for (for 21 days straight). This establishes a pattern where your brain starts to look for things to be grateful for.
  • Journaling – Journal about 1 positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hrs. Your brain re-lives the positive experience.
  • Exercise – Your brain feeds off your physical improvements.
  • Meditation – Allows the brain to push past distractions that are mostly negative.
  • Acts of Kindness – as simple as writing an encouraging email to a colleague / friend / family member. Increases the happiness level in the brain.

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