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👌If You Want Success, Pursue Happiness😉

Many people chase achievement, assuming it will lead to well-being. They should reverse that order of operations.

Without going too far out on a limb, I believe almost everyone would like two things from their jobs and careers: success and happiness. They want to do relatively well financially, receive fair recognition for their accomplishments, enjoy their work as much as one can, and become happier as a person as a result. These are reasonable goals, but they can be a lot to ask—so many people, especially ambitious, hard-working people, simplify them in a logical way: They first seek success and then assume that success will lead to happiness.

But this reasoning is flawed. Chasing success has costs that can end up lowering happiness, as many a desiccated, lonely workaholic can tell you.

This is not to say that you have to choose between success and happiness. You can obtain both. But you have to reverse the order of operations: Instead of trying first to get success and hoping it leads to happiness, start by working on your happiness, which will enhance your success.

Success and happiness are generally positively correlated, as many workforce studies have shown. For example, companies in Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list saw an average 14 percent stock-price increase every year from 1998 to 2005, compared with 6 percent for the overall market. And as Gallup data have shown, among business units with employee-engagement levels (that is, employees who reported feeling heard, respected, and intellectually stimulated, and who had a best friend at work) in the 99th percentile, 73 percent perform above the company average, and 78 percent perform above the industry average.

However, success did not lead to total contentment: It indirectly chipped away at life satisfaction, likely via time constraints, stress, and impoverished social relationships.

But when researchers reverse the order, looking not at success’s effects on happiness, but happiness’s effect on success. Scholars in 2005 surveyed hundreds of studies—including experiments to establish causality—and concluded that happiness leads to success in many realms of life, including marriage, friendship, health, income, and work performance.

One explanation might be that happiness makes us more attractive, so we are rewarded by others. Alternatively, happiness might make us more productive.

Whether you are an employee or employer, it is a better investment to increase happiness at work and in life, rather than simply trying to increase measures of success.

The first thing to remember is that happiness requires balance. No matter how much you enjoy your work, overwork will become an obstruction to well-being. Researchers in 2020 studying 414 Iranian bank employees found that workaholic behavior (such as perfectionism and work addiction) strongly predicted workplace incivility (such as hostility, privacy invasion, exclusionary behavior, and gossiping). Workaholic behaviors also degraded the quality of family life (as measured in disagreement with statements such as “My involvement in work provides me with a sense of success; this, in turn, helps me to be a better person in my family”.

Once work quantity is under control, happiness at work requires a sense of meaning and purpose. Gallup has revealed that people who serve their communities and receive recognition for it self-report significantly less stress and worry in their lives than those who do not (either because they don’t serve their communities or do not receive recognition).

Ultimately, although success and happiness are linked, the alchemy is mostly one-way—and not in the way that most people think. Working on your success to get happier is inefficient at best, and may blow up in your face and lead you to unhappiness. But working on your happiness gives you the best chance at getting both.

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