According to Emma Seppala — science director for Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education — working harder and longer hours will not necessarily make you happy or successful. In fact, hundreds of neuroscience and psychology studies suggest that the opposite is often the case. The key is to find happiness first. When you’re happy, then you’ll find the success you’re looking for.
In her book, The Happiness Track, Emma says, “Happiness — defined as a state of heightened positive emotion — has a profound positive effect on our professional and personal lives. It increases our emotional and social intelligence, boosts our productivity, and heightens our influence over peers and colleagues.”
Live (or work) in the moment
Instead of always thinking about what’s next on your to-do list, focus on the task or conversation at hand. You will become not only more productive but also more charismatic.
Not to Sweat the Small Stuff
The thing that’s grand about spending your time thinking about the universe is that it makes you feel insignificant. I don’t mean that in a bad way. If you understand that we’ve now discovered entire solar systems that contain planets similar to Earth and that those are just the ones we know about, since most of the stars we’ve looked at are within about 300 light-years of Earth and the distance to the center of our galaxy is nearly 100 times that—then you realize that the laundry you’ve left undone and the dumb thing you said yesterday is about as significant as slime mold.
A therapist once told me something that’s as true now as when I first heard it: “You can only go as fast as the slowest part of you can go.”
The Secret to Trying New Things
People say it’s gross that I eat grubs and goat liver, but if you haven’t tried it, how do you know? Our brains tell us lies, and if we listen, we cost ourselves surprises. When trying something new, cast off your fear and expectations.
Simple Ways to Look Polished
Start with a great haircut, neat nails, and well-shaped eyebrows (if eyes are the windows to the soul, eyebrows are the frames). Invest in a tailor—and in a few no-fail items that will help you look pulled together: a crisp white shirt, a pencil skirt, a great-fitting shift dress (just add shoes and go!), a tissue-weight scarf, and the perfect jacket. Whether it’s a black blazer with a structured shoulder and nipped-in waist or a little leather jacket that looks great over anything, the right jacket projects confidence. And isn’t that what polished really means?
Know When to Quit
After my first book was published in 2000, I spent two and a half years writing a novel. But it never felt right. I didn’t even name it—it was the poor, misshapen beast child I kept hidden under my bed. Then I showed it to my agent. “None of the things you do well are in evidence here,” she said. I was devastated, then relieved: I had failed, and now I could stop. If you don’t feel a shiver of excitement or fear, if there’s no emotional risk involved, let it go. You can’t discount how hard it will be to leave your bad marriage or stop writing your bad book, but if you’re unhappy, nothing can get better as long as the status quo stays the status quo.
Be good to yourself
Instead of being self-critical, be compassionate with yourself. You will improve your ability to excel in the face of challenge and be more likely to learn from mistakes.
Show compassion to others
Instead of focusing on yourself, express compassion to and show interest in those around you, and maintain supportive relationships with your co-workers, boss, and employees. You will dramatically increase the loyalty and commitment of your colleagues and employees, thereby improving productivity, performance, and influence.