I think it’s no surprise that all of us are looking for success. We have heard and read so many things about what it takes to succeed, and there are some very popular ideas of what predicts success that we ALL subscribe to – but in fact, science has shown it to be FALSE.
In this video, I am going to talk about what is this ONE TRAIT that predicts success, how it works, and how you can use neuroplasticity methods to build on this trait so that you can be more successful in your career and have better relationships.
What is it?
People who feel generally happy rather than UNHAPPY have been shown to have greater success in
1) Work 2) relationships and 3) personal life
I know this might probably make some of us go “what?” isn’t it success brings about happiness instead of happiness brings success?
But 1) these research studies of 275000 people with people AROUND THE WORLD shows that it is the OTHER way around. It turns the popular idea of success brings happiness on its head.
So, why does it predict success in life?
The reason why this happens is that
Happiness causes our brain to produce dopamine and serotonin, which are popularly known as the “feel good” chemicals, but it also plays a big part in our learning ability. It helps our brain to organize information, retain the information in the brain for longer, and also helps with faster recall, so happy people LEARN faster.
Moreover, these chemicals help us to create and maintain more neural connections – which helps us with analyzing a problem much more quickly and be able to solve complex problems, and also come up with more creative solutions.
So at the neurological level, these cognitive abilities give happy people a leg up at work and in life.
The other thing about happy people is they are
1) more optimistic and positive.
This makes them more likable, and they are also better able to form genuine relationships. How many of us have felt drained around negative and unhappy friends and family members, and have chosen to cut them off or minimize contact with them? It is tiring and draining to be around negative people. In comparison, when people are happy and optimistic, it feels like hanging out with a ray of hope and sunshine, and we gravitate towards them. Because of this, happy people have more and better relationships. This comes in handy when they need social support or resources to help them out, they have more friends and also people are more willing to help them out, which helps them to succeed.
Another thing about happy people is that they
2) have greater resilience.
When they meet with failures and setbacks, they think of it as a challenge for them to overcome, or as a way for them to improve to become better. Think about it – whenever we have gone through very stressful situations, it is incredibly hard – but those times have also FORCED us to go through INCREDIBLE growth.
With happy people, because they think of failures more optimistically, they are more likely to get back up. They know that failing doesn’t mean failure. All it means is that they need to learn from the mistakes, get back up, adjust, and keep going. We only fail when we give up, but we don’t fail if we keep going.
they are also more likely to
3) embrace change
Happy people, when faced with change, can be flexible and adapt to change – and even embrace it. I understand that change can be very hard for a lot of us – that there’s the
- fear of the unknown
2. fear of failure in a new environment.
Our brain is hard-wired to try to look for certainty because our brains evolved in what is called an Immediate Return Environment – in prehistoric times, when we see a lion, we run away to hide, the coast is clear, and then we are certain we are safe.
However when change happens, there’s a lot of uncertainty, which makes it uncomfortable.
Moreover, with the change, this means our brain needs to build new neural networks to adapt to it. Think of it as mowing the lawn.
To adapt to change, we need to mow a specific path repeatedly until that pattern becomes clear and stable.
Because our brains are wired to go for the path of least resistance, having to do something new makes it harder.
Happy people struggle with the same thing that we do – but the difference is that their attitudes to change are different. They see it as an opportunity to grow, that they can overcome it, and they have what it takes to adapt to it. This flexibility and adaptability help them cope with change much faster and easier, which helps them succeed faster in life.
So to be successful, increasing happiness is the key.
It has a positive effect on other related traits – your optimism, positivity, resilience, and adaptability. All of this helps you to build greater success and self-confidence. Moreover, happiness ALSO boosts your immune system and improves your general mental and physical health, where you are LESS likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
To increase your level of happiness, these are some neuroplasticity methods that you can do to help you be happier. One way is to
1) Teach Your Brain to Scan for Opportunities
Looking for the negative in every situation is a harmful habit that only serves to hurt you. Our brain tends to scan for and hone in on specifics that we are looking for – and when we are unconsciously looking for the negative out of habit, we “train” our brain to ignore the positives and potential opportunities in a situation. Training the brain to become more optimistic is going to help you teach your brain to start noticing the positives and opportunities.
You can do it by writing down all the positive habits and behaviors that you have – it could be big, or small, it doesn’t matter. Then, focus on trying to implement these positive habits daily, or trying to do more of these positive habits. One of my positive habits is I like to write in my journal first thing in the morning about what I am grateful for and set a positive intention for the day. This starts me off on a good note and I have noticed I have become more productive and less stressed and unhappy over my work, and it’s something you can try as well.
If one of these positive behaviors is something that relates to other people – for example, being a good listener, doing more of that would help you build positivity, better relationships with your friend, as well as support your friend in a time of need.
What you are doing here is teaching your brain to look for opportunities and learn to become more optimistic over time. THis also helps you build a better relationship with yourself and others – which increases your happiness.
Another way to train your brain is to
2) Use your laziness to your advantage
Because our brain is hard-wired for the path of least resistance meaning – the easiest way out, trying to teach your brain to notice the positive is going to require some consistent effort. And it’s going to be very easy to forget to do it after a while, or just give up and revert to your usual habits.
To break out of this, use your laziness to your advantage with the 20-second rule by Dr. Achor. How this works is this.
For us to start doing something, it requires a certain amount of mental energy to plan and start – but when we make it 20 seconds EASIER to start a good habit, it takes away the mental energy required and we can just start immediately.
So say, you have written down a list of all your positive habits from the previous exercise. How you can implement the 20-second rule, is instead of picking 1 or 2 positive habits each day to work on, have it all pre-planned and set up a reminder on your phone each day, so that you already know what positive habit you want to work on today. Or you could tape it to your bathroom mirror so you see it first thing in the morning.
This takes away the mental effort required to think through and consider what positive habit you want to do each day, which makes it much easier to just start. You could even take this 1 step further and set a specific time on your calendar to remind you to do it. So if being a good friend is a positive habit of yours, you could have it in your calendar to remind you to text your best friend every day at 8 pm to ask her how her day went.
This ensures it’s a lot easier for you instead of having to remember to remind yourself constantly and having to figure out what you need to do each day.
To increase your overall happiness,
3) Being Kind
goes a LONG way in increasing YOUR happiness, as well as others. When we are kind to others, be it helping them or offering a listening ear, it uplifts both the recipients’ mood as well as your own, increasing both your dopamine and serotonin levels – i.e. your feel-good chemicals. Moreover, there’s a multitude of research studies that shows emotions and moods are infectious – we are easily influenced by someone else’s moods and vice versa.
One of the super easy ways you can do to be kind is the
4) 10/5 way.
What this is is When you walk within 10 feet of someone in your office, make eye contact, and smile. When you are within 5 feet, say hello. There’s a case study where a major hospital implemented this policy and they noticed improvements in work and customer satisfaction after this was implemented.
This form of acknowledgment and positive support towards your coworkers helps to elicit positive emotion
s in both you and the recipient, creates better relationships for you and them, and helps you in various ways, such as receiving help and support from them if needed, potential real friendships, and a friendly, supportive atmosphere at the office.
I have noticed when I do it, at first it feels kinda weird, but the funny though is, or maybe not so funny, people ALWAYS react positively and smile back and say hello! This has also led to more casual and friendly conversations between people I never expected to have because of it, and it certainly makes my life more pleasant.