Skip to main content

Happiness – Cause or Consequence of Career Success?

Happiness Challenge / December 29, 2018


We are conditioned to chase success from youth with the promise of future happiness. There is a ton of research-based evidence that suggests a close relationship between happiness and success. However, research further indicates that happiness precedes and leads to career success and this is discussed below.  [1]

Happy People are Helpful

Happy people (defined as those who mostly experience positive emotions) tend to be popular and receive positive supervisor/peer evaluations. They stay more engaged with their work and exhibit what is called “Organizational Citizenship Behavior” characterized by voluntary helpfulness, courtesy, attendance, punctuality, and conscientiousness. They also report higher levels of job satisfaction, performance and income and are less likely to burnout or be absent from work. Being happy, they are more likely to collaborate on projects, and view their co-workers positively. They consider going beyond their designated job duties as a part of their normal job. While exhibiting these qualities leads to more income, it also leads to increased influence in their network through which information and opportunities for career growth come easily.

Happy People are Optimistic 

Due to inner optimism, happy people tend to be self-confident. They set challenging goals for themselves and persevere enthusiastically through obstacles, while being sure in their ability to achieve results. They are creative and flexible. In this way happiness leads to success for them. In several studies it was found that people with a higher level of baseline happiness in teenage years went on to earn higher incomes, work in prestigious jobs, have better relationships and reported greater job satisfaction in their mid-20s. Happiness and success therefore feed off each other over time.

It is not that happy people do not feel negative emotions – they just seem to respond to them and process them more productively. Happy people seek out and undertake new goals that reinforce their happiness and other positive emotions. [2]

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.

—Albert Schweitzer

Does Success Bring Happiness?

While research seems to indicate that happiness begets success, we also see that external success itself does not lead to continued happiness. This is evidenced by the depression experienced by many successful personalities. In fact, a relentless focus on achieving goals at the expense of other factors that contribute to emotional well-being such as relationships, health, and personal leisure leads to stress. [3] Our own experience tells us that the degree of happiness we feel in doing the same activity decreases over time. A 2010 study published in PNAS by Daniel Kahneman (a Nobel Laureate) and Angus Deaton, pointed out that while less money is associated with emotional pain, more money (greater than $75000) does not lead to more happiness. [4]

Happiness or sadness does not inherently lie in material success or failure. It is our own thinking that makes it so. When we implement an internal system of daily happiness, we will learn to be happy whether our goals are achieved or not. More importantly we will develop resilience. This will maximize our chances for success in the long term. [3]

To truly be happy, we first need to understand why we seek happiness. This is because it is our soul’s nature! Our soul is a part of God and God is Happiness.

In other words, until the part (our soul) attains the whole (Supreme Soul), we will not stop on our quest for happiness.” – Art of Mind Management, Swami Mukundananda

In this 21-Day Happiness Challenge, Swami Mukundananda will share tools with us to access our inner happiness – a constant, ever increasing fount of joy that will lead to outer happiness as well.

Get ready to be happy for the rest of your life and never look back! Click here to sign up if you have not!