Conventional wisdom has always led the world to believe that success leads to happiness. Harvard professor and author Shawn Achor’s extensive research and other findings in the field of positive psychology have shown that it’s actually the other way round. It’s happiness that leads to success.
Analysis published by Harvard Business Review and the University of Warwick shows statistical increases in professional output owing to happiness. As per Harvard, happiness has been found to raise sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, in addition to improving health and quality of life in myriad ways. If you think about it, it absolutely makes sense. Whenever we are happy and positive, we are more motivated, energetic and productive, less stressed and more loved by people around. It’s tremendously powerful – this happiness and positivity. The dangerous thing is that negativity is equally powerful. It can do the exact opposite.
What intrigues me is that we don’t need massive tragic events in our lives for us to be negative and unhappy. Trivial situations in our daily life, that should not matter to us at all, become sufficient reasons to fill up our mind with poisons – enough to lend some to needy reptiles, if required. The problem is that these trivial situations would occur all the time in our lives – which would mean that we may give in to negativity and unhappiness for as many times. In addition to pulling us down, such negativity brings along with it a serious collateral damage. It can make us extremely unpopular amongst friends and colleagues!
Based on my experience and conversations with other people, below are 7 negative traits that can silently but alarmingly eat into our daily happiness.
1.) Constantly comparing with others
This one easily takes the number 1 spot. Measuring our life with others’ success will invariably result in an unhappy mind and heart. Facebook is a clear case in point. Research has shown that many Facebook users experience depression when they see other people going out on vacations, buying fancy cars etc. The thing is there will always be people who will do, have and achieve something more or different than us. So, rather than looking at others’ plates focus on yours. There is enough food on it that needs to be relished. As long as you are running on your own track and achieving your objectives, you should be happy. My mother’s lesson has always helped me in this regard –
“Whenever you feel unhappy and dissatisfied, look at the more unfortunate ones, you will start feeling grateful…and look at the more successful ones to get inspiration.”
2.) Always taking things personally
The way black holes in space attract every particle towards them, the same way there are some people who, no matter what you say, will take each word of yours personally and get grumpy about it. Whatever you say, they will assume it to be targeted towards them or will take it offensively. In addition to not letting a person with such attitude live in peace, it also makes him/her extremely difficult to stay around with. Try to take things lightly. Give due consideration to the other person before quickly jumping into conclusions.
Some people gets overly grumpy and complaining when things are not perfect or have not turned out as per their desire. For example, the hotel did not turn out to be as great as it looked in the pictures or the weather during the outing was not as good as expected or the food was not up to the mark. In addition to spoiling their own mood, they also spoil the moods of other people around. Happiness is a state of mind. In whatever condition you are in try to make the best use of it to enjoy yourself because this time will never come back.
4.) Excessive attention-seeking
The need for attention is normal but people who excessively seeks to be a receiver of constant attention and importance will take the unhappy route as soon as the attention diminishes or diverts to someone else. The negative side-effect of this is that it can make people unnecessarily competitive and egoistic and in the process a pain to be around with. Try to be humble and kind towards others lest you find yourself on a fast-track route to losing friends.
Some people are under the perpetual belief that they are always victims of bad luck; that nothing ever works out smoothly in their favour. Although at times it’s normal to feel that way, getting ourselves ingrained in that attitude too frequently and for too long will render us always holding destiny or other people as being responsible for our plight and will stop us from taking things in our control and improving our situation. Instead, try to see why things are not working out and take corrective actions. Try to be grateful for the fact that even if things do not work out smoothly they do finally work out in some form or shape thereby keeping you on your track.
6.) Not living in the present
Fretting about the future and agonizing over our past will invariably result in a stressed body and mind. Learn from the past mistakes and plan, strategize & act in line with your future vision but don’t let those two spoil your present. The equation is simple. If we don’t enjoy the present, it will lead us to a negative state of mind. The negative mind, in turn, will not let us take the relevant actions today where our future is dependent upon. And by not taking actions in the present we end up destroying both our present and future.
7.) Looking for perfect conditions
Some people have the habit of delaying happiness in expectation of perfect conditions in the future. “I will go for vacation when I will have enough money to stay in the best hotels” or “I will invite friends only when my house looks perfect”. By waiting for perfect conditions, we push away the opportunity for us to be happy today to an unknown date in the future which itself is completely unpredictable. The result is that positive energies that we could have experienced through those events, evades us. Settle for a cheaper hotel or a cheaper destination. Make the house clean enough for friends to come over. Enjoy the opportunity today itself even if things may not be perfect.
Make a conscious effort to steer away from these 7 traits. It will help you live a happy and peaceful life which will maximize the probability of your personal and professional success. Do have a look at the amazing video of Shaun Achor’s TED talk on the Happiness Advantage.