The Real Secret to Success: We All Have It Backwards

Yet another new year is here, and for most of us, that means another round of New Year’s Resolutions. While there are many tips that can help ensure success with some of our resolutions, the honest truth is that we probably won’t succeed at all of them.

And maybe that’s because we’re looking at some of our resolutions the wrong way. For example, if you’re like most people, you’ve probably resolved to increase productivity at work — and the implicit belief is that doing this will bring you more happiness. But will it really?

In this TEDx Talk, researcher Shawn Achor explains what he has found in his research over the years, namely that most people — and therefore companies — operate according to a flawed formula: “If I work harder, I’ll be more successful, and if I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier.”

He argues that this is flawed for one main reason: every time your brain has a success, it changes the goalpost of what success looks like. What was once satisfactory becomes unsatisfactory. If happiness is on the opposite side of that ever-changing goalpost, you’ll never get there.

In stark contrast, Achor found that the brain actually performs better when it’s in a presently-positive state of mind (as opposed to neutral, negative, or stressed states of mind). A positive mind has tangible benefits on intelligence, creativity, and energy.

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To put it simply: if you can find ways to be happy now, then you are more likely to reach success. With this mentality, you’ll be far less likely to quit on your resolutions. One way to do this is finding a hobby that will actually make you happier.

What do you think of Shawn Achor’s talk? What are you currently doing to increase your happiness? Got any tips for us? Share them in the comments!

Image Credit: Success Silhouette by 2jenn via Shutterstock