I have often thought of happiness as a type of success and still believe that to be valid. I believe there is a more powerful truth and studies overwhelmingly support the idea: Does success bring us happiness or the other way around? If we pursue success in the hope of happiness are we less likely to reach our goal than if we use happiness as the pillar from which we will find success?
Recently while running with my friend and guide, Jose Acevedo, we were discussing this concept. He referenced a book he’d read: The Happiness Advantage, The Seven Principles That Fuel Success and Performance At Work By Shawn Achor. As a voracious reader, I found the book and began reading and cross referencing with a little internet research specifically about happiness.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much data from the fields of neuroscience and psychology overwhelmingly supports this idea. We enact changes within ourselves through a proper approach to positivity which brings about success more than any grueling work ethic will achieve. This is not to suggest work isn’t a valuable component, but rather that happiness is one of the more valuable and often overlooked components for being successful.
That’s great information but it still leaves us with some questions on how to achieve this happiness which is so likely to lead to success as well. For that, a deeper dive into happiness is an important part of the process. I cannot in one brief blog post cover the thousands of books which explore this topic or the thousands upon thousands of research papers enlightening many aspects of this journey. I do hope to inspire the notion that we might all benefit from digging into what happiness means for us personally and also our best approaches to achieving it.
I find many resonant forms of happiness in my life and I liked the categorical perspective of them in terms of short term, mid-range and long lasting. These might be reasonably labelled as pleasure, passion and purpose.
Joy is a simple form of happiness and falls into the “pleasure” range for me. I experience it in a laughing playful moment with my family much as in the photo above or by listening to a favorite song. Gratitude is another happiness for me which is a passion as I pursue it as a frequent (daily at least) reminder of powerful connection points in my world. Another example of this category is hiking or running which are both active pursuits which I choose in part because of the happiness they bring me not just in the moment but in the connection to the ongoing experience and community.
Finally, my work with 2020 Vision Quest has certainly become a dominant purpose in my life and there are many aspects of it which bring me a deep sense of value and positive contribution to the world for which I find a well of positivity, my subjective state of well being through purpose.
There are so many other aspects of happiness and positivity which inspire my life, such as awe and even pride (hopefully the healthy self-improvement variety rather than the excesses of arrogance). No doubt you will discover many more which each of us might explore as a means towards surrounding ourselves with the pillar of happiness. By surrounding ourselves by an awareness of the varieties of positivity and learning to recognize and appreciate them in our lives we uplift our lives and apparently vastly improve our chance of adding success to our happiness!