Be Happy, Don’t Worry

Does success make us happy, or does happiness make us successful? This sounds like an ideal topic with a great bottle of wine, but for many observers of behaviour that have nothing else to do, it’s a crucial topic.

So what’s the answer? The short answer is that while success probably does make us happy (it’s better than failure, at any rate), it is also true that having a happy temperament enables us to do the things that turn into success. Our “positive affect,” which is the outward sign of your happiness, will make it more likely that we’ll land the job, find friends, form a happy marriage or other intimate long-term relationship, make money, be loved in our community, and be healthy. Woohoo!

Sometimes happy people are judged shallow or complacent. Furthermore, discontent or deep unhappiness can be huge and effective motivators. Some unhappy people are very successful and creative. There are always costs and trade-offs. Perhaps the most that can be said is “happiness is a great asset, but no guarantee of a perfect life.”