Happiness Leads to Success or Success Creates Happiness?

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Summary: Success may not be quite the happy-making experience that is commonly believed.

Key Take Aways:

- Focusing on one's own happiness may be a better strategy for success, than believing happiness will follow success.

- Happiness may be more related to our own mindset and lifestyle choices.

Initially it seems ridiculous to think success may may not create happiness, but there are too many examples  to the dismiss the notion entirely. One is a research study conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., of the University of California, Riverside  and some colleagues. They reviewed 225 studies and found not only does success not generate happiness in the manner some may believe, it is actually happiness that leads to success.

Dr. Lyubomirsky wrote, “this may be because happy people frequently experience positive moods and these positive moods prompt them to be more likely to work actively toward new goals and build new resources. When people feel happy, they tend to feel confident, optimistic, and energetic and others find them likable and sociable.” (Source: Psychology Central)

So it may be more effective to first focus on creating happiness (and health) in your own life, rather than believing it is somewhere down the road attached to a big career or financial goal, in a word "success".

One may dream of becoming rich and famous, but if you look at what some people who have those things say sometimes they are unhappy. Even some big lottery winners said it didn't make them any happier and in some cases their indulgent lifestyles damaged their health and relationships.

Shania Twain said for ten to twelve years she wasn't enjoying her success because she was working too hard. Michael Jackson reportedly suffered from depression and insomnia, yet he was one of the most famous individuals in the world. The founder of Herbalife International, a billion dollar company, died from mixing alcohol with an anti-depressant.

So what are some things we can all do to be happy?

1. Keep a gratitude journal

Writing down several things you are grateful for each day can help create happiness.

2. Move your body

Regular cardiovascular exercise is one of the best natural anti-depressants. You can also make your regular exercise a social experience by playing a sport, instead of  walking alone. Golfing, playing basketball and bowling are examples.

3. Eat healthy

A research study found peak mental well-being was associated with the consumption of seven daily portions of fresh fruits and vegetables.

4. Social Connectedness

The more people you interact with in an authentic way, the more likely it is one will be happy. Chronic social-isolation is linked with depression.

5. Compassion

Empathizing with others and being present with them when they are struggling or suffering is tied to happiness, according to some research. As was written on Dailalama.com, "The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes.  Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease.  This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope  with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life."

Image Credit: DarkSideX, Wiki Commons

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