Traditionally, society believes one must work hard in order to attain success, and through success one will achieve happiness. In a speech addressing the nation’s children, President Obama stressed that success is achieved through hard work and dedication. However, recent research in the field of positive psychology believes this principle is actually flawed and that happiness, in fact, fuels success. In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor discusses his work at Fortune 500 companies, such as American Express, KPMG and UBS, and Harvard University, where he spent 12 years studying how happiness improves one’s success rates (Achor, 2010). Achor believes in order to achieve success, one must first reach happiness. Through his research, Achor explains that if we can train ourselves to think more positivity and be happier, and then we can gain a competitive advantage to succeed at work and in life.
A majority of Achor’s research is based on his 12 years living and teaching at Harvard, where he was giving the opportunity to serve as the head teaching fellow for Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar’s course, Positive Psychology (Achor, 2010). While at Harvard, Achor observed over 1,600 undergraduates and was able to conduct a study using the principles of positive psychology. By studying the behaviors and habits of his students, he was able to conclude why some students seemed to flourish and others succumbed to stress and depression. He learned that “our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or neutral, but when they are positive” (Achor, 2010). Essentially, he concluded that the most successful individuals were more positive and happier and not only did this apply to the students at Harvard, but also it applied to employees at their workplace.
In line with Achor’s research, numerous other studies show that happy individuals...