Have you ever met someone who is extremely successful that also seems completely happy and wondered what they were doing differently?  As it turns out they don’t have any secrets, they simply focus on happiness and success follows.

Happiness and success are subjects that have been researched and written about endlessly. Shawn Achor, who wrote the bestselling book The Happiness Advantage, conducted some of the best research.  He found only 25% of a person’s success is determined by their intelligence and technical skills, the other 75% is determined by three things:

1)      Optimism

2)      Social Connection

3)      Stress Management

The good news is all three of these things can be learned with a conscious effort, practice and time. His studies have also shown that success does not bring happiness.  When people who base their happiness on success achieve a goal the resulting happiness is short-lived before they set their sights on a new objective. Optimism, Social Connection, and Stress Management are imperative to success for good reason.


It isn’t a surprise that optimists are happier and healthier than pessimists, so it makes sense that they are more successful as well.  Although pessimists see the world more accurately, it can come at the expense of their health, success, and happiness.  Some of us are naturally optimistic, but what about others who are naturally more realistic or pessimistic?  Fortunately optimism can be a learned trait.

Changing an attitude is as simple as changing the internal story that occurs during a negative event.  Pessimists tend to think of negative events as permanent (it will never get better), universal (everything is against them), and personal (this was my fault).  Optimists have the exact opposite reaction to negative events.  They tend to see them as temporary, having a specific cause, and not their fault.

All that is needed to change from pessimistic outlook to an optimistic outlook is to change the internal story.  Instead of permanent, universal and personal, consciously change the story to – a temporary setback that had contributing factors outside of your control that can get better. It may seem too simple to be true, but research has this process actually works.

Social Connection

Having friends and family to connect with, build deep connections with and to lean on when necessary is paramount when it comes to increasing happiness and success.  The more you give, the more you get, this is due in part to the law of reciprocity.  Reciprocity is so strong, that people feel obligated to return a favor regardless of how much they like the person that gave the favor or even if they did not want or ask for the original favor.  Reciprocity is its strongest when it comes to friends and family.

Stress Management

Stress has a presence in all of our lives and we have to deal with it on a fairly regular basis.  How someone handles stress makes a significant impact on their level of success.  The book Choke, by Sian Beilock studies stress and how top performers handle it.  Similar to optimism, changing the way you see problems is not only key in becoming a top performer, but also  in being a happier person.

The people that handle stress the best are people that see problems as challenges and are excited to conquer them.  The people that handle stress poorly see problems as threats and they worry about them.  If you interpret your bodies’ signals as you are in trouble and need to get out, you will likely ‘choke’.  There’s likely been a time in your life when a stressful situation caused you to ‘choke’.  Instead, try to think of the situation as a challenge and a call to action.

Make. Life. Count.

The wonderful thing is that the research has been done, and the process to being happier and more successful is proven, all you need to do is utilize it!  Make changes today to become happier and healthier and in turn more successful.

Take action, and enjoy the results!