“If I work as hard as I can and become successful, then I will be happy.” That is the prevalent belief in our society these days. The classic equation adults tell us growing up, success = happiness. If you become successful, then you will be happy. It’s as if none of us deserve to be happy unless we are successful.
This false belief has led people to work years and years to reach “success” only for the sad reality to set in, success doesn’t equal happiness. This carrot and stick approach to happiness results in fleeting, scarce happiness. It adds pressure, stress, and negativity to all the aspects of our life. And in fact, striving for success first actually impedes success.
When I was building my first company, I always said, “I’ll be happy when…” I was pushing off happiness for the attainment of success. I didn’t think I was allowed to be happy. “Why would I be happy if I am not where I want to be?”
“For untold generations, we have been led to believe that happiness orbited around success. That if we work hard enough, we will be successful, and only if we are successful will we become happy. The opposite is true.” – Shawn Achor
This line of thinking eventually led to me burning out, and my business almost collapsing. It was at my lowest point that I started to question this belief. I started to search for another way, because what I was doing wasn’t sustainable. I was letting myself and my team down.
What I found surprised me, and forced me to change my beliefs. I found that the correct equation is the opposite. Happiness isn’t this “nice” thing to have AFTER you are successful. Science has actually proven that happiness precedes success; it fuels success!
In his best selling book, “The Happiness Advantage”, Psychologist & Harvard Professor Shawn Achor, showed through research and science how society’s formula for success is broken. His team found that when someone is happy, or in a positive state of mind, their intelligence rises, their creativity improves, and their business results increase as well!
Achor’s team found that sales teams were 37% better when positive, Doctors were 19% more accurate at diagnoses, and humans in general were 31% more productive!
Once I flipped the equation, and my mindset, I started to focus on my happiness in the now. I started to journal on things I was grateful for, I started to “play” more, I started to meditate and take care of myself.
Not only did this shift make me a lot happier (and healthier), it was the start of my business turning around. Using this mindset, I could face the difficult times with positivity and fortitude. I learned to be happy in the face of difficulty. And the result was me scaling my company to $6 million in 2 years.
“Happiness leads to success in nearly every domain, including work, health, friendship, sociability, creativity and energy.” – Shawn Achor
Mahatma Gandhi worked almost his entire life to free his people from oppression, first in South Africa then India. This was not easy and took decades to accomplish. He dedicated his entire life to the cause and was even incarcerated because of it. Even through this hardship, Gandhi was happy and fulfilled the entire time. In his autobiography, he even mentioned that if he did not accomplish this major goal, he would still be happy.
One could imagine how easy it would have been for him to be miserable and resentful during his journey. Instead, he was peaceful and happy. He maintained this positivity and eventually succeeded in his goal. He changed the course of the world and he used the correct equation to do it.
You can strive for success. You can work hard for success. Just don’t think that success will lead to happiness. There are a lot of depressed millionaires. Focus on being happy in the now. Be proud of where you are and who you are.
You can be happy now and still strive for more. Remember, this will actually make you more successful, it will make you perform better in all aspects of life and you will enjoy the ride so much more. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Go be happy.