Automatically makes you happy to be successful

Happiness researcher reveals: This mistake of thinking stands in the way not only of your happiness, but also of your success

“How are happiness and success actually related?” Is one of the questions that Harvard University happiness researcher Shawn Achor deals with. Many people assume that one day, once they are successful, they will automatically be happy too. But that is precisely the mistake of reasoning that stands in the way not only of your happiness but also of your success, says Achor. In the TED Talk, he reveals how you can become more successful - and happier - instead.

1. Excursus: Shawn Achor - Who should that be?
2. Shawn Achor: The "Pope" of positive psychology?
3. The big misunderstanding about the relationship between happiness and success
4. How to Become Happier in Five Easy Steps
5. The truth about the link between happiness and success

Excursus: Shawn Achor - Who should that be?

The name Shawn Achor hides an American author and speaker who was born on March 9, 1978 and who has researched happiness at the renowned Harvard University for over 16 years. His works include the bestsellers "The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work" or "Before Happiness: Five Actionable Strategies to Create a Positive Path to Success". He is now considered one of the world's leading experts in the field of happiness and success. His TED talk on "The happy secret to better work" is one of the most viewed of all time with more than 13 million clicks. Shawn Achor has an impressive résumé: Here you can find names like

  • the White House,
  • The New York Times,
  • NFL,
  • Boston Globe,
  • NBA,
  • The Wall Street Journal,
  • CNN radio,
  • Pentagon as well
  • his own company, GoodThinkInc.

The goal that Shawn Achor and his colleagues set themselves is as simple as it is difficult: They want to make the world a happier place. They try to bridge the gap between academic research and real life. His "Happiness Advantage Training" is one of the most widespread and successful in the field of positive psychology worldwide.

Shawn Achor: The "Pope" of positive psychology?

With his research and this impressive résumé, Shawn Achor has already reached countless millions of readers and listeners at just under 40 years of age. Anyone who deals intensively with positive psychology cannot ignore this fascinating man. But as always in science, his theses are of course not without controversy. Nevertheless, the large number of companies and well-known people who have already taken advantage of his advice speaks for the happiness researcher at Harvard University - and his success proves him right. We are therefore certainly not the first to ask the "Pope" of positive psychology the following question: How did he become so happy and successful - and even more important: How can we be that too?

The big misunderstanding about the relationship between happiness and success

It is precisely this question that the happiness researcher has dealt intensively with during his many years at Harvard University. He himself obviously sets a good example. He is sure that everyone can be happy and successful. He sums up his "recipe" as follows:

You don't have to be successful to be happy; you have to be happy to be successful.

Many people link their happiness to apparent conditions. You are convinced of a fallacy which is: once I am rich / beautiful / successful / popular etc., I will be happy too. Instead, as part of his research, Shawn Achor came to the amazing result:

The external circumstances are only ten percent decisive for a person's long-term happiness.

The other way around, the happiness researcher concludes that 90 percent of your happiness in life comes from within. It is particularly important how your brain perceives and processes the outside world. So whether it is focused on the positive or the negative in your life. Because no matter how privileged you are, your life will never be perfect and there will always be cause for unhappiness. At the same time, there are people who impress us by the fact that, despite a difficult fate, they never seem to lose their radiant smile. Shawn Achor therefore comes to the conclusion that your happiness does not depend on your success. Instead, you can become perfectly happy without success. But how?

How to Become Happier in Five Easy Steps

As already mentioned, the bestselling author reveals his recipe for more happiness in life in the TED Talk. It is said:

  • Gratitude: For at least 21 days in a row, write down three things for which you have been grateful within the last 24 hours. This will teach your brain to focus on the positive rather than the negative in everyday life.
  • Diary: Keep a journal for the same minimum period. Once a day, write down an intense experience of the past 24 hours in which you were extraordinarily happy. This will bring the situation and the associated feelings of happiness back into your mind.

Reading tip: "Success diary: little helper with a big impact"

  • Move: Exercise not only releases happiness hormones, but you also experience more self-control and feel stronger and more self-confident. After all, it is no coincidence that so many successful people are marathon runners. Sport is also essential in order to stay healthy and therefore productive in the long term.

Reading tip: "Full throttle to a career: Are marathon runners more successful?"

  • Meditation: The calm and relaxation through meditation reduces stress and helps you to focus on the essentials again. You learn to break away from social conventions and to stop multitasking, which is so damaging to your performance. In the long term, meditation increases your mindfulness and your self-love as an important key to more personal happiness.

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  • Friendliness: "What goes around comes around". "As one calls into the forest, it resounds". There are proverbs like this in almost every language and culture. Do you believe in karma? Even if you do not assume that being kind will treat you in a more friendly way by other people, it is still a gain for your personal happiness. Even small gestures of friendliness not only make your counterpart, but above all you, happier in the long term. Be it a kind donation or a thank you letter to colleagues or friends: Do at least one good deed every day!

After just 21 days of taking these five measures, you will see the first signs that your brain is reprogramming itself and focusing on the positive in your life. You feel happier and stay mentally and physically healthier in the long run. All right, do you think to yourself now? But what does all this have to do with success? Very easily:

The truth about the link between happiness and success

Happiness makes you healthy and health makes you successful. This is true. However, this is not the only link between happiness and success. Instead, it is different from what many people assume: As mentioned earlier, it is not success that makes you happy; happier people are more successful. Shawn Achor can also substantiate this thesis thanks to his research results:

  • A person's IQ only determines 25 percent of their professional success.

Reading tip: "11 characteristics that are more important for your career than the IQ"

  • At 75 percent, optimism, the social network and a person's ability to see stress as a challenge rather than a burden are much more important instead.
  • When the brain is in a positive state - that is, a state of happiness - it increases a person's intelligence, creativity, productivity and energy.
  • This improved performance in turn leads to greater success.

So there is a positive upward spiral, which Shawn Achor calls "The Happiness Advantage". He can also provide specific figures for this: In a positive state ...

  • ... the brain works 31 percent more productively.
  • ... the success rate increased by 37 percent as part of the research among salespeople.
  • ... doctors work 19 percent faster and more accurately.

These are just a few examples of how luck can make you more successful in your professional life. For more, check out Shawn Achor's full TED talk, which is definitely worth his twelve minutes.

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Ultimately, luck and success are actually closely related. It just looks fundamentally different from what many people suspect. It is not success that makes you happy. Instead, use our five steps to work on your personal happiness and you will become more successful almost “automatically”. Also, but not only, because you stay healthier and therefore more productive.

What do you personally think of the theses of the renowned happiness researcher? Do you agree with Shawn Achor and why - not? Feel free to try the five steps for at least 21 days and then tell us about your experiences in the comments. We are excited and thank you for your contributions!

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Photo credit: Photo by Ambreen Hasan on Unsplash


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