“Happiness is the precursor to greater success” says Shawn Achor, author of ‘The Happiness Advantage‘. 

Achor debunks the popular misconception that if you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you’ll be happy. His research instead reveals that happiness fuels success and performance, not the other way around. When we are happier and more positive we are more engaged, creative, resilient to stress, and productive. So therefore success doesn’t increase your chances of happiness, but happiness creates increased chances of success.

Success is Subjective

Success is often equated with salary and occupation, reflected in a higher social status. Yet societal changes are highlighting other forms of success based upon more personal values and influences, and this is being reflected in the different business models that are being implemented. This is particularly notable in the rise of profit-with-purpose businesses, like TOM Organic, Hepburn Wind and Bellroy.

At a women’s business event last year a discussion began surrounding this perception of what success means for healthcare providers. Many felt that the prevailing measure of success was still the number of patients that they saw in a week. Yet the participants didn’t feel that this was a healthy measure for their particular clinic’s focus. Similar to the profit-with-purpose business model, many of these business owners had chosen to make their businesses work around their own needs, values and purpose. This meant their practice allowed them to work part-time and spend more time with their family, or to see less patients but have longer consultations because that was the way they preferred providing care.

So if we don’t concern ourselves too much with what others’ perceptions of our own success are, can we be happy?

Focusing on happiness instead

Achor suggests 3 things to make us happier, and hopefully more successful:

  1. Stop equating a future success with happiness, i.e. ‘when I achieve X, I will be happy’.
  2. Break the belief that our external world (how much money we make, are we in a relationship, what the economy is doing, etc.) is predictive of our happiness.
  3. Happiness is a work ethic. You have to train your brain to be positive, just like you work out your body. Meditate, journal about positive experiences (it backfires if you write about negative ones!) or send a positive email to a friend once a day.

In addition to point #2, it’s important to note that we all go into business for different reasons. Having our own purpose will determine our own sense of success.


Need help narrowing down your organisation’s purpose, values or direction? Contact Spindle today.