Psychologist Shawn Achor, who has done trailblazing work in the area of brain research connected to happiness, developed a term called "the happiness advantage" that basically shows that when we choose to be happy in the present, all the learning centers of the brain are turned on and we perform better than when the brain is neutral, negative, or stressed.
He also discusses how our brains seem to be wired to chase happiness that's been established by this societal myth (from parents and teachers and institutions) which tells us, "success brings happiness."
But we believe that if we work harder we'll be more successful and if we're more successful then we'll be happy. Eureka!
But what his research has shown is that what the brain does -- after achieving success -- is just change the goal post of what success looks like.
So we get good grades, but then we have to get better grades.
We get into a good school, but then have to get into a better school.
We sign with a great job, but then we want a better job.
What Mr. Achor's work shows is that "happiness is being placed on the other side of success" so we keep pushing success over the "cognitive horizon."
And the sad realization is that we never get there.
Of course, we're here to experience success in our lives. We want to be productive and fulfilled and monetarily rewarded for the work we create. We want to enjoy material security and feel like we're making a difference.
But what we need to do is realize that our brains actually work optimally (and then so do we) when we choose to find joy in the present, regardless of a future event's outcome.
Train the brain. Reverse the formula. Change the paradigm. Get happy now. Become a little more present. Find ways to be.
In a lot of my teachings I've discussed so many different ways to get there -- meditate, spend time in nature, exercise, practice gratitude, write in a journal, do things for others, play, do things that scare you, take a trip, get out of your comfort zone.
And I'm adding another one.
I'm not sure how scientific it is, but it works.
You'll be surprised by not only the happiness advantage it creates, but a lot of other side benefits and perks, too.