Putting happiness first – Thinking Thru 'The Happiness Advantage'

Happiness symbolized by balloons

A few years back, I took a break from everything – well, everything except myself and my family. I sold my successful elderly care business and moved away. There were a lot of reasons that precipitated that break from my old life, but one of them, looking back now, was that despite my success happiness was not there. I wasn’t happy, my wife wasn’t happy with me, and my children barely got to see me (which I think made them unhappy, even if I completely embarrass them when I do hang around).

One of the most important things I learned from that break was how to focus on the joys that real life brings, like going to a cafe with my daughter, or having a date with my wife, or even the simple joy of taking a walk in the sunshine.

Reading Shawn Achor’s ‘The Happiness Advantage’ made me realise how important that step was. Without realising it, I was putting my happiness before my success, and according to him, that’s foundational.

Shawn’s got all kinds of numbers to back up his claims which you’ll have to read the book to get, but the main thesis of the book is: the happier you are, the more likely you are to be successful.

Take a moment and think about that. No really, I mean it – let it sink in and roll around in your skull and see what pops up. I promise everything in your life, including this article, will still be there after you mull it over. Just stop and think it thru.

Person laying Thinking about happiness

Interesting, isn’t it. We spend a lot of time preparing ourselves to be successful, starting with school, all the way through to getting to the office early so you can get a jump on the day. All those hours are considered extremely important, and are pushed up the to-do list, which pushes down many of our other priorities. Many of the to-dos that make us happiest are seen as the least important – simple luxuries that we can do without. 

Before you hangout with your friends, you have to do your homework. Then, if there's time...

Before you go camping on the weekend, you have a list of chores that need to be done. Then, if there's time...

Before you relax and enjoy life, you need to have a certain salary, a house, a new car, and…

But what if, instead, we made sure we were happy? What if we decided that our happiness was more important than that extra hour of studying that may get us an extra letter grade? What if we decided being happier is more important than a raise? What if we focused first on being happy, then put whatever studying, or early mornings in the office around the time we need to just enjoy life?

Could it be that success would flow from that? I don’t see how it wouldn’t. After all, whatever happens to me professionally, whatever money I make (or don’t make) whatever impressive clients I start working with (or don’t work with) as long as my family and I are happy, I’m as successful as I’ll ever be.

That’s what I’m Thinking Thru.