The Formula of Success and Happiness

By: ALEXIS GILLEY

By definition, happiness is, “That feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can’t help but smile… a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment,” according to Vocabulary.com. The same site says that success is achieving a goal. Within today’s society, there is a formula for success and happiness that is ¨Scientifically broken and backwards¨,  Shawn Achor mentions in a ted talk about positive brain performance. 

One of the first things he talks about is his observations when he was a Harvard freshman proctor and teaching assistant. He goes to say that no matter how happy kids were with their original success, within two weeks of school their minds are no longer happy with the privilege to be there, but focused on the competition, work load, hassles, and stress. 

His friends ask him why he would study happiness at Harvard, asking what a Harvard student truly has to be unhappy about. Shawn Achor states, “What that assumes is that the external world is predictive of our happiness levels.” Later he insisted, “We need to reverse the formula of happiness and success.” 

The idea of success being if people work harder they’ll be more successful and if they are more successful they’ll be happier, underlines most of the teaching ideas upon students, kids, and people in general. This is wrong for two reasons. First, with every success their brain surpasses, it will create a new success every time. Second, if happiness is on the other side of succes, this idea has made it impossible to achieve happiness. 

Anthony Ives informed by the field of psychology, explained in a ted talk how heuristics govern the way people operate.  He claims, “When we think about college, career and success, we think about it in the following order; Which college you attend will determine your success, opportunities and career. As well as your career will determine your happiness.” This is an inaccurate view, giving the idea that only a small category of people can fit. 

The thing is, once a person surpasses a step of success, it is mandatory that work is kept up to maintain that success. If not, someone else’s success can push down that hard work. So where does happiness come into play? Shawn Achor goes into saying, “ We think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier. The real problem is our brain works in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s levels of positivity in the present then their brain experiences something we now call a happiness advantage…. Your brain is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed.”

Non-profit organizations are perfect examples of happiness before success. Not always is it perfection that leads to happiness. There is much stress on grades and colleges but there are plenty of people who didn’t get the best grades, that are very successful. Such as Drew Barymore, Benedict Cumberbatch, Steve jobs, Ralph Lauren and more. With this new formula of success it is more beneficial for the human brain to function and produce better work and a more successful future in a positive way. 

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