It’s a chicken and egg question….

I recently came across an article in the September 2018 Toastmasters Magazine that asserted that happiness comes first. Do you agree?

I do.

Success, it argues, cannot lead to happiness because success is a moving target. As soon as you hit your target, you raise it again and thus the happiness from success is only fleeting. Shawn Achor, a leader in the field of positive psychology, argues that happiness has a profound effect on brain function and significantly increases individual performance, leading to greater success. He has research that suggests that happiness leads to improved problem-solving, increased memory and retention, higher accuracy and greater creativity. So to be successful, we just need to be happy?

Great… so how do we be happy?

  • Practice Gratitude: I like this one a lot. Try it… take a moment and think of three things you are grateful for. If you found this easy, find three more. If you found it hard… what about being grateful that you are alive, you have a wonderful friend, a loving dog, a roof over your head, internet to read this blog, rain that is watering the grass or snow that provides a blanket of clean white beauty. Every morning, I write down three things I am grateful for… often I’m grateful for at least one small thing my husband did. It sure does remind me to appreciate the little things he does 🙂
  • Actively encourage kindness: Set a goal, see how many acts of kindness you can do each week. Start small… smile at someone at least once a day, hold the door open for someone, let someone go ahead of you in the check out line. Maybe even pay for the drive through order of someone behind you…. Kindness is contagious; it breads more of the same, creating an environment where people want to pay it forward. Obviously this article was written before COVID. But I still am trying to encourage kindness. I let someone with just a few items in-front of me at the grocery store, I try to reach out to someone everyday to let them know I’m thinking of them. I send cards in the mail to send a physical happiness boost. I’m still trying to encourage kindness.
  • Move: movement is beneficial for both our bodies and our brains. Exercise improves our creativity, focus and efficiency. Try to integrate movement throughout your day by taking regular breaks. Even 60 seconds of movement can put our brain in positive mode and leave you feeling more alert and increase your productivity. If you are like me… my everyday movements are less. More zoom meetings, less driving, no coffee dates etc. I’ve had to be intentional about my exercise and this can be hard as I don’t love the treadmill. I’m looking forward to when we can swim. (hmmm now that I’m thinking about it… it might be time to do some stretching).
  • Recharge: tune into your body and know when it is time to take a break. A good indicator is when you become distracted, tired, thirsty, hungry, fidgety or frustrated. At these times, it might be time to create a change of state … go for a quick walk, stretch, go outside. If I have to do some work that requires a lot of focus, I like to use the Pomodo method… I work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break (I usually stretch, bathroom break, refresh the water). Then back to work for 25 minutes. I take a 30 minute break after 5 of these 25 minute blocks.

To increase our happiness, we just have to appreciate what we have, be kind, integrate movement into our day and listen to our bodies. Not only will we feel happier, but this positive mindset will lead to greater success!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree? What do you do to increase your happiness?

“Success is getting what you want; Happiness is wanting what you get”

Dale Carnegie