Understanding how this works can start with the observation of what life is like when we’re unhappy.
Chances are when you’re tense, worried and on edge, finding work, getting work done and keeping clients happy feels like hard work – and the harder you work the less successful you feel.
I had one of those periods recently. I had too much work, too many deadlines, too many people wanting my time and not enough space to myself. I was glad for the money that the client projects would bring but I was also irritable and self-absorbed. My clients didn’t seem particularly thrilled with my efforts, my relationship with my partner suffered, I didn’t return phone calls from friends, I did no exercise and I ate badly. I was a grouch.
It’s tempting to believe that such misery is justified by the potential business success and future happiness that long hours and hard work will bring, but recent research from the University of California, Riverside, suggests that we may be getting it around the wrong way.
This research – a review of 225 studies in the psychological literature – found that people who are always happy are in general also successful in many areas of life and their success is in large part due to their happiness, not vice versa.
It seems that a good mood does wonders for our ability to work towards new goals and build resources. When we’re happy we tend to feel confident, optimistic and energetic and other people find us more likeable and more sociable.
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As soloists it’s not difficult to see the benefits that will flow from this. I know myself that when I’m rested, relaxed and happy, I’m enthusiastic about my goals for the future, I network with others, I’m full of energy and new ideas and new work opportunities seem to pop up from nowhere.
It doesn’t stop with your work life either. The research reports that happy people are also more likely than their less happy peers to have fulfilling relationships, higher incomes, superior work performance, greater community involvement, better health and even longer lives!
So the next time you’re feeling stressed out and fed up, arrange to take time out and do whatever makes you happy. Do this regularly and with the same dedication that you give to your work and watch success in every area of your life flow your way.