3 Reasons Happy People Are More Likely to Be Successful

In my counseling practice I have the privilege of working with many entrepreneurs and successful  business people where the conversation about true happiness come up frequently. Yes, there is a direct correlation between happiness and success, but it may not be what you think. Happy people are more likely to be successful.

How Happiness Improves Your Chances at Success

You may believe when you  have a big, beautiful home, that luxury car you have always dreamed of, and a thriving career that you will be happy.  Conventional wisdom tells us that happiness is the outcome of success.

The world of advertising tells us this every day. We also see our friends, families and work colleagues striving to create lives that are are successful so that they can be happy – or, at least, happier. However, a growing body of study suggests that it’s the other way around—happiness is what leads to success in life.

How does happiness lead to success?

Before answering this question, it is important to understand what happiness is. Sonja Lyubomirsky—professor at the University of California, Riverside, author, and prominent figure in the science of happiness has a good definition.

In her book, “The How of Happiness” she defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”happiness leads to success

Lyubomirsky says that life circumstance, including one’s level of success, accounts for only 10 percent of happiness. This means that even if you call yourself a success, that does not guarantee that you are truly happy.

We now know that part of our ability to be happy is genetic. Some people are naturally happier than others. But, even so, science also tells is that all of us can work towards becoming happier. And, earning more money or accumulating more things (beyond a certain point) is not what makes us happier.

Research shows that happy people are more likely to behave in ways that lead to success.

Here are a 3 things that happy people do that makes them more successful:

  1. Happy people believe in their ability to succeed.

Because happy people think more positively they believe in themselves. They are not held back from moving forward in their lives by insecurity or feelings of low self worth. That is not to say that they don’t feel insecure or unworthy at times, just that when they do feel this way, they are able to bring themselves out of this mindset into a more positive one. It is not a matter of being fearless, it is a matter of not letting fear get in your way of pursuing what is important to you. Happy people are less likely to see failure as a devastating life event, and more as a lesson, a part of the process of success.

  1. Happy people put more effort into creating a better future for themselves.

In order to consistently work towards creating a better future you have to have a certain level of happiness. You have to have faith that you are able to do the things that will lead to success. When people are more optimistic, it is easier for them to overcome the obstacles that lead to success. Optimism and belief in yourself can help sustain you through the difficult times. As any entrepreneur knows there are time that belief in yourself is what fuels grit. Grit is one of the personal traits required for long term success.

  1. Happy people put effort into their relationships.

Being kind, helpful and generous with others helps lead to success. People who relate well to others and practice emotional intelligence skills are more likely to be well liked and valued. This leads to more opportunities in work and in life.


The long of the short of being successful all boils down to your attitude. While you may not be born with the happiest disposition, you can always work towards improving your attitude. The healthier your attitude, the more successful you will be.

If you struggle with a “happiness deficiency” problem you are not alone. Many of my clients seek counseling because they have exceptionally good lives but find they are not able to enjoy what they do have.

Intentionally building your capacity for happiness not only increases you chances of success in other areas of your life, but helps those close to you because happiness is contagious.

For More Information About How Happiness Leads to Success:

Forbes Magazine

Psych Central


Paper by Sonja Lyubomirsky & Julie Boehm