Is a Happy Person More Successful at Work?

When well-being really works!

Is a Happy Person More Successful at Work?

When well-being really works!

Being a happy person is of course worthwhile for its own sake, but are happy people more likely to be successful?

In answering the question “what causes happiness?” our article points to research that suggests we can choose to be happier. But something else to consider is whether choosing to be happier helps your career:

can being happy help make you more successful at work?

Are Happier People More Successful?

There seems to be growing evidence to answer this question positively. Leading positive psychologist Martin Seligman suggests that recent research indicates that happiness is…

causal and brings many more benefits than just feeling good

For example, Seligman points towards increasing evidence that happy people are healthier, more successful, and more socially engaged. Interestingly, he also thinks that causal direction runs both ways. Other noted researchers on the topic seem to go even further. Lyubomirsky, King and Diener suggest that positive moods and emotions lead a happy person to think, and act in ways that promote:

  • Building their own resources and capability, and
  • Their ability to positively work towards their goals.

Is a happy person more successful at work?In other words, a happy person thinks and behaves in a way that is more likely to be successful. In studying the evidence of a wider range of research studies, they find that happy workers enjoy multiple advantages over their less happy peers. The list is impressive. For example happy people are more likely to:

  • Secure job interviews
  • Show superior performance and productivity
  • Be evaluated positively by their supervisors
  • Handle managerial jobs better

They are also less likely to show counter-productive workplace behaviour and job burnout. These are interesting findings for both career success and workplace well-being. Although the researchers express some caution, their study of a wider range of research articles does indicate that a happy person appears

to be more successful than their less happy peers in the three primary life domains: work, relationships and health.

Although the evidence is not totally conclusive, Lyubomirsky, King and Diener suggest that happiness may often come before successful outcomes, rather than just following as a result them. Whilst it’s understandably assumed that success brings happiness, it seems that the opposite also has some truth: in many cases, happy people may tend to be more successful.

Be a Happy Person – You Might as Well!

At an intuitive level we all recognize that people who are genuinely happy help to create a much better work environment. Nobody wants to work around disgruntled colleagues. It’s worth remembering Cynthia Nelm’s  persuasive words:

Nobody really cares if you’re miserable, so you might as well be happy.

There is growing support for the idea of choosing to be happy. Though a good reason in itself, this is not simply because “we might as well be”. It’s also because of the evidence that a happy person tends to be more successful in many areas of life, including the workplace.

Of course, not everybody defines success in the same way, and quite rightly! For many, defining success may include salary, promotion, fame and fortune. Whereas for others it may simply mean balancing family, work, self and community. You can read more about how we define success more broadly in our article: success maker. And we offer tips on what how to promote well-being at work in another article: finding ways to be happy at work.

Workplace well-being resources

Workplace Well-being e-guides

For more resources on this topic, take a look at our great-value guides. These include some excellent tools to help your personal development plan. The best-value approach is to buy our Workplace Well-being bundle, available from the store.

We’ve bundled together these five e-guides at half the normal price! Read the guides in this order, and use the tools in each, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your personal development plan. (6 pdf guides, 138 pages, 24 tools, for half price!)

Have a Good Workday (16 pages, 4 tools)
How to be a Happy Manager (15 tips with action checklists)
Workstyle, Lifestyle (31 pages, 5 tools)
Managers Make the Difference (27 pages, 5 tools)
Managing from Strength to Strength (22 pages, 5 tools)
Making Change Personal (22 pages, 5 tools)

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