Imagine a young man who spends all day and night fantasizing of one day achieving real success. He lays in bed at night dreaming of what it would be like to actually live the American Dream: to have the freedom to do what he wants when he wants and to help others when they need it.
He isn’t greedy in the sense that he merely seeks out fortunes. He is deeper than that. He wants to fulfill his potential by devoting himself to his business, whatever it takes.
His dream is of one day “making it.” That way, he can provide for his family and look back and smile knowing that he did not waste away any of his God-given talent. Instead he utilized everything that was given to him and worked until he had made something out of it.
His formula equates that concentrated hard work will get him the success that he dreams of. And this very success will warrant happiness. Until then, he puts his head down and works. He can truly enjoy life upon reaching this ultimate dream of his.
However, he gets discouraged: He never feels quite good enough. He never IS good enough, because he has yet to achieve this ultimate level of success. Even when he reaches victories that others would find incredible, he is still not finished. Not yet.
So, his mind slowly begins to sink in to depression. It becomes all-consuming and is hard to escape.
Yet, he reasons that if he only works harder, then one day it will all be worth it. All the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there. He will be happy on the other side of success.
But, I beg to differ.
And so does a very smart man from Harvard.
This man’s name is Shawn Achor and he wrote The Happiness Advantage. In it, he addresses an all-too-common problem that many of us face: We let our happiness become dependent upon our current level of success. And every time we reach yet another goal of ours, we must reorient what the next level will have to be in order to make us happy again.
If we thought we would be happy once we got that new car, well, a few weeks in and our day job still sucks and we would rather stay in bed all day than drive it to work. Oh and you finally got that raise you were dreaming of, huh? But, now you only want MORE.
It is NEVER enough.
If you wait for happiness on the other side of your successes, you are merely setting yourself up for failure, in more ways than one. The immediate happiness you receive from those successes will be quickly fleeting. In fact, you will actually reach a lower level of success in the long run this way.
You see, the proof is in the pudding:
"Recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that the formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around."
"When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work."
This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe."
Thus, we must deploy a certain set of tactics to help us in achieving happiness BEFORE success. The reasons are plentiful among saving our own mental sanity and optimizing our ultimate potential.
So, for the next 21 days, I challenge you to deploy at least one of Achor’s tactics:
1. Journal about one positive experience over the last 24 hours: Even if you have had a bad day, you can still find joy in one simple thing. By writing this down, you conjure up positive thoughts outside of that moment.
2. Write down three things you are grateful for: These three things must be different each day. This helps your brain to begin seeing the positive in everyday things.
3. Exercise: A mere 15 minutes is equal to taking one antidepressant.
4. Meditate: It helps us to focus on one thing in this ever-changing world of constant distraction.
5. Perform either random or conscious acts of kindness every day: For instance, thank one person each day for what they have done for you. This not only makes them feel good, but it strengthens the relationship you have with them. These relationships determine a lot more of your overall happiness than you think.
So aim to pull yourself out of the rat race now.
You will never be successful enough to warrant lasting happiness. It will never be enough. So just give that up already. Instead, focus on just one of these 5 steps over the next 21 days and see what happens. After all, it could alter the way you look at the world and, thus, the person you one day become.
For more information regarding The Happiness Advantage, visit goodthink.com