Updated: April 29, 2021
Of course, it is common sense to believe that successful people often lead happy lives.
However, there is evidence that shows the reverse is also true – that happy people are more likely to succeed in life.
In 2005, a team from the University of California Riverside, led by psychologist Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, found out through experimental studies that happiness can, in fact, lead to success.
In their experiment, they induced participants with positive and negative moods and compared their behavior in various situations. And what they found out were these:
- Happy people are not afraid to talk to other people and actually enjoy social interactions. This helps them expand their network easily and potentially connect to someone who can bring them career and business opportunities.
- People in a good mood can resolve conflicts effectively. They are more open to new ideas, and would most likely be willing to collaborate rather than destructively compete.
- When you feel good, you tend to be more creative and productive. You can perform complex tasks better, which certainly helps in finding solutions to the various problems we encounter in life.
- Happy people have improved self-efficacy. This means they are more confident about their skills and abilities and are not easily discouraged by minor setbacks.
The study has a lot of other interesting findings about the connection between success and happiness. But the list above should be enough to convince you that if you want to increase your chances of being successful in life, then you have to choose to be a positive and happy person.
When you’re faced with a mountain of debt, working in a stressful job that you hate, and barely making ends meet – how can you be happy?
Actually, you can – by choosing to be happy.
According to Professor Lyubomirsky, roughly 40 percent of our happiness is within our control. And several other researchers in the field of positive psychology have a similar conclusion: happiness is a choice that anyone can make.
As psychologist William James once said:
The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.
But how exactly do you choose to be happy?
Here are seven scientifically proven ways:
1. Listen to music.
Listen to upbeat music, especially those with happy and inspirational lyrics. Your mood will slowly elevate.
2. Interact more with positive people.
Have a few minutes of conversation with someone cheerful and happy. You will feel lighter and less stressed.
3. Linger on simple pleasures.
Focus on the positive moments that you experience every day such as that fresh breeze you felt, that satisfying meal you ate, or that thoughtful message you received from a friend.
4. Learn how to meditate.
University of Wisconsin psychology professor Richard Davidson found in his research that meditation helps in shifting brain activity towards feelings of happiness and joy.
5. Find a reason to smile.
Look at a picture of your loved ones. Listen to a funny joke. Watch a feel-good movie. There are a lot of ways to make yourself smile, and laugh. Do it often.
6. Have a gratitude journal.
Wright State University School of Medicine professor and psychiatrist Randy Sansone found in a study that cultivating thankfulness can increase the well-being of a person.
7. Help others.
There is a lot of scientific research that supports this. One of them is by University of Rochester psychologist Richard Ryan who says that compassion for others produces a positive emotional effect on the giver.
Be Happy. Be Successful.
A lot of people delay their happiness until they are successful.
They wait until they can achieve their goals before they allow themselves to feel good about life.
They focus on success so much that they permit stress and anxiety to run their lives.
But as written above, you can choose to be happy today regardless of your circumstance – and by doing so, success becomes more possible for you.
So always remember to work hard for your dreams, but don’t ever forget to smile.
- Gregoire, Carolyn. (2013) This Is Scientific Proof That Happiness Is A Choice. The Huffington Post.
- Lyubomirsky, S., King, L. & Diener, E. (2005) The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin.
- Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2010). Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont)