The How To Be Happy List

About 10 years ago I read a book entitled The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.

I was hooked to read the book when I highlighted the quote below:

That is: If you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you’ll be happy. This pattern of belief explains what most often motivates us in life. We think: If I just get that raise, or hit that next sales target, I’ll be happy. If I can just get that next good grade, I’ll be happy. If I lose that five pounds, I’ll be happy. And so on. Success first, happiness second.

Then a few paragraphs later, I highlighted another quote:

More than a decade of groundbreaking research in the fields of positive psychology and neuroscience has proven in no uncertain terms that the relationship between success and happiness works the other way around. Thanks to this cutting-edge science, we now know that happiness is the precursor to success, not merely the result. And that happiness and optimism actually fuel performance and achievement—giving us the competitive edge that I call the Happiness Advantage.


The ardent philosophy of life that you will hear repeated over and over from “podiumites,” whether gold, silver, or bronze, in the upcoming Summer Olympics:

If you work hard then you can achieve your dream [be happy].

Shawn Achor and all the current research that he quotes in his book disagree. I think that Jesus agrees with Author Achor:

But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you [including happiness!]  Matthew 6:33

Happiness or fulfillment is not found by striving, as it is something larger outside of us. When seeking a bigger perspective, whether achieving it or not, the pursuit brings happiness.

With the Kingdom, ultimately the larger or the eternal is guaranteed. Happiness is not associated with this world and thus nothing in this world can take it away.

The book that I’ve been quoting, The Happiness Factor, does have a flaw. I enjoy reading books on leadership, fulfillment, and success from a secular perspective. Some of my favorites have been The War on Sleep, Unwinding Anxiety, Grit, David and Goliath, and Start With Why. The list is long and all with the same flaw:

That you can earn, work, or find happiness in this life.

The books listed describe something wrong with happiness, leadership, or health, and then give a list of instructions on what to do.

Shawn Achor writes on-point in The Happiness Factor describing that happiness needs to be found before success, but misses the point entirely when he then describes seven principles that we must work at to find happiness before we find success.

Seven principles from author Achor, more principles from this leadership book, more health “to-dos” from that book, more emotional points from this book, and another list from that book – all well-researched along with anecdotal evidence and inspiring testimonies.

List upon list upon list. And if you need another list, go to the current best seller Atomic Habits or the bestseller 12 Rules for Life – yep, that’s the title!

I love to read books. I have read the above books except for Atomic Habits and 12 Rules for Life but will read them soon; I can’t stop reading books. I’m going to write a book someday entitled 8 Steps To Overcoming Book Addiction.

I support reading books. Read all that you can. But there is only one thing needed to find happiness.

Finding Happiness List:

  1. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

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