Want success? Being happy is the key, says study
Updated: 2005-12-20 06:18
Happiness, rather than working hard, is the key to success, according to
research published yesterday.
Cheerful people are more likely to try new things and challenge themselves,
which reinforces positive emotion and leads to success in work, good
relationships and strong health, say psychologists.
The findings suggest that happiness is not a "feel-good" luxury, but is
essential to people's well-being. What is more, happiness can also extend across
an entire nation, with people in "happy" nations being more likely to help
The link between happiness and success was investigated by a team from the
University of California Riverside, led by Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky.
First, they analyzed questionnaires that ask people about multiple aspects of
their lives. "For example, they show that happy people tend to earn higher
incomes," said Lyubomirsky. Having established the link, they wanted to discover
"Almost always it has been assumed that things that correlate with happiness
are the causes of happiness, but it could be just the opposite that those things
tend to be caused by happiness," said Professor Ed Diener from the University of
Illinois, another author on the paper.
Other studies revealed that having a sunny outlook on life appeared to
precede good fortune.
"There was strong evidence that happiness leads people to be more sociable
and more generous, more productive at work, to make more money, and to have
stronger immune systems," said Lyubomirsky.
Meanwhile, experimental studies showed that an instant injection of
high-spirits could generate success. "Inducing a happy effect leads people to
make more money in a computer simulation."
The research shows that while success can put a spring in someone's step,
people need happiness in the first place to achieve success.
According to the study, around 4 out of 5 people in modern industrialized
nations are happy at any one time.
Success was not just about earning lots of money. "We define success as
obtaining the things that culture or society values, whether it be friends,
close family, money and income, or longevity," said Diener.
However, sorrowful people are not condemned to a life of failure.
"Our work suggests that sad people should try to increase the frequency of
positive emotions in their lives by doing things that make them feel happy, even
temporarily," said Lyubomirsky, whose research is published in the Psychological
But there is a caveat: your happiness boosters should not be dangerous, like
driving fast, or counter-productive, like eating lots of chocolate.
(China Daily 12/20/2005 page1)