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Is Happiness Really a Key to Business Success?

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Is Happiness Really a Key to Business Success?

Does being a happier person really positively influence business success? Despite the evidence many entrepreneurs still think this is pie in the sky thinking. Instead, we’ve been taught to believe that “hard work” — which implicitly suggests long, stressful hours and personal strain — is the path to success. In fact, people often parade the evidence of their stresses and overwork like professional badges of honor.  I know because I’ve been there. Stress was once my middle name and I thought it made me seem important, valued, indispensable.

Of course dedication and diligence are essential to producing results and subsequently success. But do the side effects of “hard work” have to be so exacting? And does the achievement of business results at the expense of personal fulfillment actually equate to success?

Perhaps it would be helpful to first establish a better definition of success. Here are some typical responses when I put a poll on Facebook:

“Success is being what you love”

“Success is happiness”

“Success is realizing the purpose that you’ve been put here for and actualizing it”

“Success is contribution, fun, purpose and meaning”

“Success is loving and being loved, inspiring others, being happy and making others happy. Making a positive difference to yours and other people’s lives.”

Why is it then that while we consciously define success in terms like those above, we still persist in blindly pursuing a definition of success that demands such enormous personal sacrifice in an insatiable pursuit of more money, recognition and acclaim?

The problem lies in the concept of possession. It is deeply ingrained in our culture that things — material possessions, titles, goals — define who we are and our value within society.  We associate success to wealth or status but don’t widely discuss the fact that once we achieve these things, our level of happiness does not necessarily rise.

In fact, increased wealth, acclaim and responsibility routinely have the opposite effect. We lose invaluable sleep, weaken relationships, shortchange our families, snub friends, and forgo outside pursuits all for our careers or businesses. Meanwhile, the accomplishments and trappings of “success” don’t bring an increased sense of fulfillment. Once we hit seven figures, we want eight. We get eight and we want ten. And at the end of that road, we realize we aren’t any happier.

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Laura Garnett

Laura Garnett helps service driven, small business owners get clear on what their unique brand essence is. She then helps them grow their businesses in a way that is right for them and makes them happier and more successful. She combines business with pleasure because happiness is a key to success. She also interviews inspiring people about their path to success.


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12:51AM PST on Feb 9, 2014

Thanks for the article :)

1:47AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

Love this article - it's awesome to see people giving PRACTICAL steps to happiness! I agree that material goals are nowhere near as satisfying as just appreciating the experience of what you are doing, right NOW. And if you're not happy what you're doing right now, then right NOW is the time to start changing the necessary parts of your life to start appreciating them! Hope to see more articles like this in future, thanks again for your positive influence in the world!

10:53AM PST on Feb 3, 2012


5:18AM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Thank you all for your compliments.
Larry, I appreciate your sentiments and I think this comes down to choice and truly knowing what makes you fulfilled. If you have a job that pays less and that you love, then you create a lifestyle that meets what you earn. Money does not equate happiness and love of work is far more rewarding than a huge paycheck. However if you love what you do but are not compensated for the life that you want, then there will be a disconnect. I believe that if you tap into your zone of genius that you can make money using it. That is what I help my clients do. Not everyone is cut out or desires to run their own business but if you have the passion then I can show you the way. Or if you know you are meant for a more structured career i.e. corporate world then there are ways to create your dream job within the confines of that structure. I think that the belief that this is not possible is what prevents it from being more common. I welcome your thoughts its a great debate!

4:00AM PST on Feb 3, 2012

It is bound to help.

2:25AM PST on Feb 3, 2012

** Here is what was cut from my comment off by the silly text limit with no warning. **

I have always felt that the most spiritually rewarding jobs were the worst compensated, and the most soul-destroying jobs are often the best compensated. (It is quite possible to have a job that provides neither money nor love. But I don't know of many types of work that provide both money and love.)


2:24AM PST on Feb 3, 2012

I totally agree with the point of the essay. However, it is simply not the case, for everyone, that doing what you love means the money will come. That is only true if what you love doing is of great value to other people, preferably other people who have money!

In my case, what I have always loved is simple activities like gardening and landscaping -- but not at the command of a Master -- that takes all the joy out of it for me. So I do these things, but the money does not come. It never did. I had to find a job that offered a compromise between offering a useful service (for which people were willing to pay me adequately) and allowing me to do work that I found interesting, with minimal arbitrary rules and meddling. (I eventually did find such work, but it was far from easy, and it was not my love, either. It was acceptable. But I did it for the money, not for the love of the work.)

I know there are plenty of people in similar situations. I worked in a food coop, for love but almost no money. I started two businesses for love but little money. I did hundreds of lectures on gay rights and civil rights -- for no compensation at all, just for love. Teachers and social workers and caregivers may love their work, but they are poorly compensated.

I have always felt that the most spiritually rewarding jobs were the worst compensated, and the most soul-destroying jobs are often the best compensated. (It is quite possible to have a job that provides neither mon

11:16PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Thanks for the information. As far as i'm concerned, that is the REAL truth that shoud be taught, hard work, dedication while not being greedy or grasping.

9:43PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Great post. Thank you for making it fun.

8:57PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Great article, it made me really happy, thanks!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

very good. I do feel better when I can walk tall.and I don't mean with high heels. I cannot and wi…

t information. thank you for caring and sharing.

Great information.

Congratz! I make Vegan chili all the time+not 1 person complains about it being meatless.

Of course cats and dogs shouldn't be vegan.


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