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The Possibility Board™

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Success and Happiness – which comes first?

Harvard researcher Shaun Achor has demonstrated through his various studies that happiness does not necessarily come from success. In fact, he goes as far to suggest that it’s the other way around. He contends it is only by being happy that you can achieve true success. So if this is the case, how does one become happy in the first place?

super heroAn interesting study conducted by Michael Norton from Harvard Business School proposed one possible solution. His hypothesis was that money can in fact buy happiness. However the caveat to this very much surrounds what you actually do with the money. Over the course of his research, they gave $50 to a variety of different people and one group were told to buy something for themselves and the other had to be spend it on somebody else. Post this activity through a variety of questions used to assess a relative degree of happiness, an interesting finding emerged. On a consistent basis those who spent money helping people they knew or even total strangers derived a far greater sense of happiness from this versus spending it on themselves.

This has also been validated in research on lottery winners who very often, through their self indulgence with their winnings, lose all their friends and family and very often end up extremely unhappy.

So what can we extrapolate from this that might be pertinent to the world of work and business? Money is one way we can give of ourselves but there are also many other ways such as supporting colleagues, praising others, helping out with challenging situations or volunteering your time. It is the actual process of giving that is so gratifying from which comes a sense of happiness.

In fact there is also a positive knock on or reciprocal effect to all of this; one that builds positive relationships, teamwork, alignment and the pursuit of a common goal. So rather than think how you might achieve success, how about unconditionally giving first, realizing the happiness it gives you and then seeing where it leads you?

About Bill Sex

Bill Sex is President of New England Coaching and specializes in supporting personal, professional and organizational advancement with specific emphasis on coaching skills, emotional intelligence and employee engagement / motivation.

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