Leslie L. Beale, JD
Executive and Developmental Coach
For a long time, we’ve been fed a very big lie about success. A lie that makes us observers in our own lives. A lie that keeps us from being fully engaged where we are.
We react to this lie in one of two equally destructive ways. Some of us become extremely aggressive and begin to push ourselves to achieve more and more. We work endlessly – always in search of the perfect job, the next promotion, the bigger salary. Others of us become paralyzed and begin to spin, repeating the same actions over and over with no real advancement toward our goals.
So, what’s the lie? Simply this: that you must work hard to become successful, then you will be happy. Don’t believe you’ve bought into this lie? See if any of these statements sound familiar…
I’ll be happy when I’ve paid off my student loans.
I’ll be happy when I’m making more money.
I’ll be happy when we can afford that trip we’ve always wanted to take.
I’ll be happy when I’ve made partner.
The latest research into happiness and success, however, tells us this thinking is totally backwards.
To achieve our best success, we must first be happy.
Happiness, contentment, and a positive outlook fuel our success. They allow our brains to become exponentially more creative. Our resiliency and motivation improve. We are more energetic and engaged.
This phenomenon is borne out in study after study and in the bottom lines of numerous organizations that place high value on employment engagement. A wide variety of metrics – longevity, health, productivity – all are improved when our brains operate in a positive state.
But isn’t our disposition, our ability to be positive, determined by our genes? Yes and no. Research shows that your general outlook on life – positive or negative – is influenced by your genetic make up. That hardwiring can be changed, however, by making a consistent and conscious choice to improve your state of mind.
Improving your happiness isn’t easy, but it is possible.
Start by focusing on gratitude. What can you count as a blessing in your life? Each day think of one thing for which you are grateful. Spend time reflecting or journaling about why this is a blessing. Get beyond the surface and reflect on how it has impacted your life in a positive way.
Move your body. It is so very easy to get trapped in our minds, caught up in all the chatter that our brains throw at us. Moving your body helps to counteract this impulse and reminds us that we are truly more than what we think.
Finally, begin to pay conscious attention to your thoughts. Decide which are serving you. Which build you up? Which fuel you to achieve your goals? Which throw you off course and send you spiraling down into negativity? Begin to tend your mind like a garden – weeding out the negative thoughts and focusing on those that you want to grow.
So, what are you willing to do for success today? Will you commit to improving your state of mind and seeing what happens?