Success ≠ happiness.


Contrary to popular belief, that’s far from reality.


Many studies show the link between happy employees and increased productivity.


But how exactly do we achieve long term happiness?

Through countless channels, we’re taught that success brings happiness. And why would we ever consider that this may not necessarily be true?

It may be as simple as the simple formula that many of us tend to follow through life:

Success = Money = Happiness.

Or we may have gained this view from the marketing that we’ve been pummelled with throughout our lives. Flashy cars, big houses… The American Dream so to speak.

But how many of us consider what happens once we reach our goal that allows us to be successful? We simply move the goal posts and the feeling of happiness is short lived.

Have you ever found yourself reading a news story regarding a famous/rich person and saying to yourself ‘What do they have not to be happy about?’.

This is the key question, as told by Shawn Achor, A Happiness Specialist from Harvard University. He then goes on to state how this goes to show the misconception on happiness. This would suggest that the external world is predictive of our happiness levels, which it is not

He then goes on to make the following statements:

– If we know 90% of the external factors of a given person, we can only predict 10% of their long-term happiness.


– 90% of a person’s happiness is predicted by how your brain processes the world (The lens that our brain sees the world through).

So how do we go about achieving happiness if it is not derived from our success? Many believe that the answer lies in the practice of Positive Psychology, which is defined as:

Positive Psychology

“The scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play” (ppc)

It can be used in parallel with alternative theories of happiness. This is one of the most favourable aspects of Positive Psychology as a line of thinking that can be used to achieve happiness.

In fact, it can be rather difficult to argue against Positive Psychology (Surely positive thinking can only be a good thing?) However, the movement has not been without its critics.

Let’s have a look at The Positive Psychology Mind Map, kindly provided by

Historically, Psychology has been focussed on the negative aspects of life. Positive psychology has been introduced to challenge this.

It is clear to see how Positive Psychology can be used to boost our productivity. This could be directly, or indirectly.

Anchor explains how if we can raise a person’s level of positivity in the present, then they experience ‘The Happiness Advantage’. This can be seen in the illustration below. Most of which can be directly linked to productivity.

As seen, this includes:
– Better, secure jobs.
– Improved ability to keep jobs.
– Superior Productivity.
– More resilience.
– Less Burnout.
– Less staff turnover.
– Greater sales. (Sources)

When we experience a heightened level of positivity in the present, we experience an increase in Creativity, Intelligence, and Energy Levels. These are arguments that are difficult to argue against. How often do we complete our best work when we are in a terrible mood? How many creative ideas have we come up with when in a negative frame of mind?

In fact, Anchor found that every single business outcome improves through The Happiness Advantage.

As well as this, it was found that positive mood individuals are 31% more productive than those with a negative, stressed, or neutral frame of mind.

The Harvard Professor explains this through the dual affect that Dopamine has in our brain.

1. Dopamine makes us happier.
2. Dopamine turns on the learning centres in our brains, allowing us to adapt to the world in a different way.

So this then leads us on to the next question. How can we train our brains to think through the lens of positivity?

According to Anchor, we can do this through implimenting five daily steps to create lasting positive change. He recommends doing this for 21 days before the brain automatically begins to scan the world for the positive and not the negative. It would then be recommended to continue with these steps past this period.

As can be seen in the infographic, the 5 steps to implement for lasting positive change are:

1/ Three Gratitude’s – Write down or think about three things that you are grateful for each day. Each day your three gratitude’s should be different from any previous ones. Many people decide to include this in their morning routine. After 21 days our brain should develop a pattern of scanning for the positive rather than the negative. The profound impact that this attitude can have on your productivity is seen when looking at the Positive Psychology mind map above.

2/ Journaling – Keeping a Journal can have a profound impact on our productivity, efficiency, and our motivation for many reasons. As well as this, keeping a journal allows us to re-live positive experiences for increased happiness. This helps train our brain that a positive action should be repeated.

3/ Exercise – We’re not short of reasons why exercise can improve our levels of motivation and productivity. As a result, many people include it in their morning routine, evening routine or even at lunch time. From Anchor’s point of view, exercise teaches your brain that behaviour matters, which can impact on our happiness levels.

4/ Meditation – Many well-known people meditate, and the benefits are widely reported. Anchor cites that meditation helps your brain to eliminate ‘cultural ADHD’ or multitasking. Another way to accomplish this is through journaling techniques, prioritising and focus.

5/ Random acts of Kindness – Finally, Anchor lists including daily random acts of kindness into your routine in order to spread positivity and a feel-good mood.

Looking at the evidence provided by those behind the movement of Positive Psychology, it’s clear to see how a positive outlook and mood can increase our productivity.

Implement these steps for at least 21 days and see how it works for you.

After all, the chance of being 31% more productive is surely worth it?

Give it a try!



Have something to add? Get in touch!

You can see the Ted Talks on Positive Psychology by Shawn Anchor below:

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