Aspiring millionaires should read The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. (The one above not named Oprah.) How come? Well, before I made my first million, I assumed money’d bring happiness.
Like, yeah, life sucks now – but boy, once I’m a millionaire it’ll be all popsicles and baby giggles. I was wrong.
But Shawn’s book, The Happiness Advantage, gives us the science for why that is.
Not only does he dispel the idea that “money will make it all better,” he provides an exhausting (but interesting) amount of evidence that supports the exact opposite: that happiness fuels success.
In other words, if you’re dying to become a millionaire, you can increase your odds by becoming a happier human first.
That said, here are seven things I wrote down while going through the book.
1) Research now proves that more happiness leads to more success, not just in business, but in every aspect of life: health, marriage, friendships, community, creativity, and yes, career.
So while cynics may be correct in saying, “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” what they don’t know is: “Happiness buys money.”
2) Anyone can increase their happiness. Even grumpy old curmudgeons. Like anything, it takes awareness, a strong desire, and consistent effort, but it can be done.
- By looking forward to something (movie night, upcoming vacation, dinner at your favorite restaurant)
- Conscious acts of kindness (paying for someone’s Starbucks, mowing the neighbor’s lawn, volunteering)
- Creating a more positive environment (placing photos of loved ones on your desk, working from your laptop outside or some place inspiring, avoiding negative news stories)
- Spending money on experiences with others (as opposed to material things, which only boost happiness temporarily)
- Practicing a signature strength (for me, that’s writing)
3) Change your mindset to change your performance. If you want to enjoy each day, create cool memories, make a ton of money, do more meaningful work, etc.? You need to see the world through a different lens.
Meaning, a growth mindset over a fixed mindset. Believing things will improve and that you have a say in it. Finding opportunity in adversity. Being bigger than your problems.
4) Document your days with a heavy bias towards positivity. Carry around a notepad and pen and write down: who and what you’re grateful for, and why; everything good that happens, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem; things you did that’ll move you closer towards your goals; etc.
In doing this, you’ll train your brain to look for the good that’s around you. Over time, you’ll literally rewire yourself to think more optimistically.
This needs to become a habit though. You can’t do it twice and expect to jump for joy when your hooptie gets repoed.
To cement this “no negativity note-taking” into your routine, enroll the fam and do it with them at the same time each day.
5) Establish small circles of success and gradually extend outward. Whether it’s tidying up a messy office or clearing out your bloated inbox or launching the business, you’ve got to start teeny-tiny.
Don’t try to “build the entire wall” today. Just “lay one brick as perfectly as you can.” (I’m 97% sure Will Smith said that in an interview one time.)
So? Clean your keyboard. Get through five emails. Buy the damn domain. Tomorrow, clean the monitor. Knock out another five emails. Install a WordPress blog.
You get the idea. Yes, it’s common sense, but like Achor says: “Common sense is not common practice.” And without action, knowledge is mostly meaningless.
6) Lower the activation energy required to form new habits, and raise it to smother bad habits. Again, the classic example we’ve all heard but don’t do: if you want to eat better, stop filling the pantry with processed garbage and stock the fridge with fruits and veggies. Right?
But when you start thinking about it, there are so many simple ways to apply this and transform your days.
In terms of business, you could outline an important email the day before it needs sent. Boom. Next day, it’s exponentially easier to write and send out.
You could also delete distracting email and social media apps from your phone. Boom. No more notifications. No more compulsive checking. No more stopping and starting work that actually matters. And so on and so forth.
7) The number one way to become happier, both in the short and long term, is to invest in your relationships. The more social support you have, the better you’ll feel. Science says so.
Oddly enough, when most people face tough times, they tend to hide out and isolate themselves from their loved ones. Don’t make this mistake. It could be deadly. And even when things are going well, double down on your people – it’s all you got.
As long as you put in the work each day, you can systematically become more happy. As you do, you’ll notice improvements in all areas of life. That’s because your brain flat-out works better when you’re happy.
The smartest first-step to make a million dollars, therefore, is to smile and appreciate how good you’ve got it – even without a big bank account.