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Happiness - Quick Guide Summary

What we all get wrong... The Classic Misconception

You would think that hard work leads to success and success in return to happiness. But actually the opposite is true. A meta study of over 200 studies has shown that happiness leads to success in almost every aspect of life. That includes work, relationship, mindset and health among others. Ref. 1

We all know these guys that seem to be happy all the time. Almost nothing can bring them down and everything in life seems so easy for them. But there are good news. You can become more positive and happy too. Science has proven that you can change. It is possible to improve your happiness level. Ref. 2 & 3 

Happiness is like a sport. It needs to be practiced. Like in sport, not everyone is born a Michael Jordan, Tom Brady or a Lionel Messi. And even they had to put in a lot of practice to get where they are. 

Certain routines like the following make you happier and more successful:

  • Adjust your surroundings
    E.g. personalize your office space, remove things out of your life that stress you like staying up to date on Facebook or Instagram.

  • Meditate and / or exercise regularly.

  • Thankfulness
    Sit down every day and write down a few items that you are thankful for.

  • Exercise your signature strength
    you are good at talking to customers - do more of it. You are good at digging through tricky data or code - do more of it. You get the idea.

  • Helping others or be kind to others.

  • Find something to look forward to
    E.g. the next vacation, a dinner with friends, a squash game.

  • Spend money on activities not things.

  • Think about or watch something funny or entertaining
    This can especially help when dealing with a challenging situation as it relaxes you and makes you perform better than cramped by anxiety.22&23 p49

Key is to build routines into your life to exercise this every day. In addition the following help as well

  • Moving your standpoint    

    • Look at the good things you have. What have you achieved? Where you could go from here?

    • Expectancy theoryyour attitude can drive outcome. Hotel room workers told it is like sport or pupils told

  • Social interaction
    Not without reason there are plenty of books that focus on networking or lunching with people to advance your career. But social interactions is much bigger. It focuses much more on friends and family who will usually stand behind you if no one else will.


To achieve this, start with small steps. This is like with sport or losing weight the most difficult.

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1   Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803-855.

2   Maguire, E., Gadian, D., Johnsrude, I., Good, C., Ashburner, J., Frackowiak, S., & Frith, C. (2000). Navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 97(8), 4398-4403.

3   Two books on the science behind neuroplasticity: Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin, and Schwartz, J.M., & Begley, S. (2003). The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force. New York: Harper Perennial.

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