Some believe happiness comes from finding themselves in the right places, relationships, job, or income level. I don’t believe that, and in recent years there is enough evidence from the field of psychology in what I have believed all along: happiness is not a byproduct of success. The opposite is actually true: happy people become successful.
After finishing reading Shawn Achor’s book, “The Happiness Advantage,” I bought a copy for everyone on my team. Shawn’s work is well researched without being didactic. It offers practical steps even for those who are not naturally prone to be happy. I highly recommend it.
One of the points that resonated with me the most came from a 40-year-old study directed by psychologist George Vaillant. He summed up his findings in one word “love—full stop.” In his words, there are “70 years of evidence that our relationships with other people matter and matter more than anything else in the world.”
As a Christian I knew that. After all, people matter to God. God’s relationship with us was so important that He sent His son to redeem it. I’ve preached it from the pulpit.
And yet we, no, I, too often sacrifice long-term relationships because of pettiness and self-righteous indignation. “It’s not my turn to call. If he wants to know how I’m doing, he’ll call.” I have cut people out of my life because of an insensitive remark I found offensive. Just like that. Sometimes I have moments of lucidity and my inner dialogue kicks in, “are you willing to lose a friend over so little an offense? How stupid are you?” Well, pretty stupid at times.
I want to live and lead from a place of grace and enjoy life-long relationships that define who I am and the legacy I leave behind. Ultimately my happiness depends on how successful I am at doing that. The competing forces of power, money, and pleasure never deliver on their promises. They never have.
How’s your social network? How close are you to those around you?