The Surprising Link Between Success and Happiness


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I’ll be happy when I get fit…

I’ll be happy when I get straights A’s…

I’ll be happy when I’ve got my dream job…

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We seem to have this innate idea that we can only be happy once we’ve worked really hard and become successful- in other words, success first and happiness second.


Shawn Achor, a psychology lecturer at Harvard university and author of ‘The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work’, observed a major flaw in this conventional idea of success before happiness- with each victory we achieve, our standard of success is heightened. Therefore, our happiness is constantly pushed further and further out of our reach. Sure, we may be happy for awhile but soon enough it fades away as we turn our focus towards our next big goal.

His research into the field of positive psychology and neuroscience then found that we have it the wrong way around- it is actually happiness first and success second. In fact, happiness and optimism actually drives success! Introducing, the ‘Happiness Advantage’. What is that you ask? Well, by cultivating a positive brain, we encourage motivation, resilience, creativity and productivity- these all work together to give us a competitive edge, or as Shawn Achor likes to call it, the ‘Happiness Advantage’.


Shawn isn’t the only one whose studied this phenomenon, a study called ‘The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does happiness Lead to Success?’ by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura Kind and Ed Deiner also found that happiness precedes success. From a biological standpoint, when we experience negative emotions, we often withdraw ourselves from tasks or situations, as a self-protective measure. On the other hand, when we experience positive emotions, we tend to approach rather than avoid and this encourages us to seek and tackle new goals and opportunities. The study summarized that the success of happy people relies on these two factors:

  • Happy people experience positive moods often and therefore they are more likely to work actively toward new goals whilst experiencing these moods.
  • Due to actively working towards these goals and seeking opportunities, happy people have gained more skills and resources over time.


So, banish the idea that your happiness is dependent on your successes. Why spend our lives chasing after happiness, when we can be happy everyday?! You control your thoughts, after all. Besides, all this happiness will even help you achieve your goals, it’s a win-win situation!


Have a great week everyone 🙂 x



  1. March 30, 2021 / 9:01 am

    Happiness is… Stop wishing and start living. 😉

  2. March 3, 2016 / 7:46 pm

    Informative article, exactly what I wanted to find.

  3. Tracey
    May 2, 2015 / 6:47 am

    So true:))))

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