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The Happiness Myth and 6 Tips to Soar Above It

by Eric Kraus

We still believe that success will lead us to happiness. Financial success, friendships, health, love, etc. etc. We believe by obtaining these things, happiness will follow.

Unfortunately, it’s not true. And in fact, we have it backwards.

Happiness Leads To Success

There is significant research showing that people who are happier tend to demonstrate better work performance, receive more income, have better and longer relationships and even have better health and overcome illnesses quicker.

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“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
—Proverbs 17:22


If success doesn’t bring us happiness, what does?

Researchers have isolated 6 different qualities that have the strongest correlation to happiness. The more people demonstrate these specific behaviors, the more they receive what psychologists and researchers call “short-term positive affects”. These positive affects are what accumulate in our lives and lead people to be happier and later lead us to success.  Here they are in no particular order:

1. A Positive Outlook

People that look at the world and others with optimism tend to be happier. These people tend to judge situations and other people with more favorable opinions. They look for the best part of a situation or see opportunities despite being presented with challenges.

Recommendation: Be patient.. Look for the opportunity in uncomfortable situations. Don’t dwell on what you can’t change.

2. Sociability And Activity

Research shows that individuals that are more social and participate in social activities tend to be happier. This has typically being associated with being extroverted, but even introverts benefit from being with other people and doing things they enjoy.

Recommendation: Spend time socializing with friends and meeting new people. Get off your butt and do something fun.

3. Likability and Flexibility

People that are seen as likable tend to be happier themselves. Also, those individuals that are more flexible in situations out of their control tend to show stronger signs of happiness.

Recommendation: Relax. Exercise your empathy skills when with other people. If you’re a control freak, try to go with the flow a bit more often.

4. Giving

People who enjoy helping others tend to be happier. It makes us feel good to do something for others. However, research shows that people who engage in pro-social (voluntary) giving behaviors show the strongest correlation to being happy.

Recommendation: Build a habit of generosity towards others. Not only are you doing something for someone else, which is rewarding in itself, but you’re strengthening the other qualities on this list as well.

5. Health and Coping

People in better physical and mental health tend to be happier. Duh. With fewer things to worry about, people can focus more on the other qualities on this list. Like many of the other characteristics on this list, this is cyclical in nature. Generally, the healthier people are, the happier they tend to be and the better their immune system is at fighting off illnesses.

Recommendation: Eat well. Exercise. Get lots of rest. Smile. Repeat.

6. Problem Solving and Creativity

People who are creative and optimistic “thinkers” and solvers tend to be happier. These people strangely enjoy change. These people also tend to enjoy activities like creating art or music, drawing, photography, writing, etc.

Recommendation: Spend time each day creating something that never existed before. If you don’t feel the creative bug, try solving a puzzle that challenges you to think differently each day (crossword, trivia, etc).

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“The happiest people are those who think the most interesting thoughts.”

—William Lyon Phelps


Happiness not only sets us up to be “successful”, but it allows us to live longer, healthier, more enjoyable lives. To die with a smile is about the greatest achievement anyone could wish for.

Source: http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/bul-1316803.pdf


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