What came first: success or happiness? (With a free book offer)

Marshall Rathmell |

It’s not uncommon for people to comment on my success and ask me to share some of the keys that have helped me achieve what I have accomplished.  This is always an incredibly hard question to answer because I know that part of what people are looking for are things they can do themselves.  I could give a myriad of answers about education, the family values that were instilled in me, the opportunities I've had, my network, and similar factors that others can’t duplicate. 


But there is one thing that transformed my life that is repeatable and that I love to share with everyone.


The first time I heard author Shawn Achor speak at a conference was a watershed moment for me.  Since then, I have gone out of my way to listen to him at another conference, and I've read his book, The Happiness Advantage, at least six times.  I have shared it with our team more than once; in fact, we recently read the book as a team, and it's had a substantial impact on everyone.


Before I go any further, I should say that the book is not a sentimental, kumbaya kind of read.  Shawn Achor is a former Harvard University professor, and his writing is based on years of research in the science of positive psychology.


Happiness leads to success, not the other way around


To boil the book down to its central point, it teaches that happiness is not the result of success.  Humans have the ability to change our mindsets to become happier people, and it is that happiness which leads to success.


Between the book and hearing him speak, I have learned a list of several specific actions I take to achieve greater happiness (and thus greater success).  You’ll have to read it to get the science behind why they work, but there are three in particular that have made a huge impact on my life.


1. Smiling consecutively for 10 minutes or more every day for 21 consecutive days.  I tend to do this driving or while exercising.


2. Listing three things a day that you're thankful for, for 21 consecutive days.  Most people keep a journal but I like to include my kids on the ride to school each morning where we take turns saying what we are thankful for.  They may be significant or it may just be I am thankful for the two of you.


3. Hand writing thank you notes to people who have been instrumental in your success – one person a day for 21 consecutive days.  The funny thing about this one is it works on more than just you.  The notes are really about you thinking about all the people that have helped you and taking the time to feel the emotional high of writing them a thank you.  Consequently, I have seen how positively it affects the people I write to and for many they are driven to find new ways to help me again. 


BCR is focused on our passion to help people succeed®.  We believe in this book’s ability to help people succeed so much that we want more people to read it.  We have purchased several copies and want to share it with you.  If you would like to read The Happiness Advantage, please send us an email with your mailing address and we will mail you a copy! Available while supplies last.


-Marshall Rathmell