Happiness And Success: Can You Have Both?

As someone who studies happiness, successful author, and motivator, Shawn Achor knows a thing or two about the subject. So can you become happier once you are successful at your job or is it the other way around?

Most people believe that success will bring you all the happiness. Aren’t we always saying things like, “when I get a raise, I can do…”, or “if I only had another job, I would be happier.” But that is not how things work, because as flawed humans, once we reach the goals we thought we needed to find happiness, we will move on to another challenge.

This is not something made up, it is backed up by research, at Harvard. Achor studied happy people for years, to find out what makes them such and if they became the way they are because of their successful careers, and explained the method behind his findings.

“Instead of deleting those people that are weirdos in the data what we do is we intentionally study them. We try and find out why it is that while an entire sales force has low numbers, we’re finding three or four people whose sales are skyrocketing. Or we’re looking at a low socioeconomic school in Chicago, where the academic scores are below average, there are a couple students whose grades are skyrocketing. By studying those outliers, what we’re doing is we’re gleaning information not on how to move sub-par performers up toward that average point, but how to move people from average to superior.”

So how are seemingly disadvantaged people so successful when others in similar situations fail? Achor says that it is because of their outlook on life and concludes that happiness plays a huge role in how successful they are.

METLife, the giant insurance company, conducted an experiment a few years back and began hiring people based on their optimism, even if they scored poorly on standard “aptitude tests.” The results were astounding. The happy people had more successful sales numbers than those who were not, by 19 percent in the first year and a whopping 57 percent in the second year.

You may be asking yourself, how is this possible? Achor believes that skills and intelligence can only account for 25 percent of the success rate at a particular job.

“If we know the intelligence and technical skills of an employee, we can actually only predict about 25 percent of their job success. Seventy-five percent of long term job success is predicted not by intelligence and technical skills, which is normally how we hire, educate and train, but it’s predicted by three other umbrella categories. It’s optimism (which is the belief that your behavior matters in the midst of challenge), your social connection (whether or not you have depth and breadth in your social relationships), and the way that you perceive stress.”

In sum, your attitude has a major impact on your future or current success and if you see problems as challenges and not threats, you can literally be unstoppable. These are some of the things Achor suggests to become happier.

– If you work more you need more social support, however giving support is better than receiving.
– Send a two-minute “thank you” email every morning. Choose different people.
– Use the 20-second rule to build a good habit or change a bad one. Like having workout clothes ready for the morning, the night before.

Of course, we all want to be happy and successful, and according to Achor it’s all within us.

[Image via Shutterstock]