When your meeting calendar looks like a fortress of color-blocked bricks and the thought of “personal time” feels more like a dream than a reality, happiness can often feel like an elusive goal.
But the constant demands, high expectations, and pursuit of financial success that entrepreneurs and high-achievers in business endure can leave you feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from your own well-being. However, the quest for happiness is not only attainable but essential for personal and professional success. And science proves that happiness isn’t just a pipe dream, but an attainable reality for us all. Here are seven strategies to put into practice.
1. Engage in Work That Aligns With Your Values
One of the fundamental keys to happiness is doing work that fulfills you and aligns with your values. Business coach Ana McRae emphasizes that happiness stems from engaging in work that feels meaningful and important to you — not work that someone else says is important.
“If your business is out of alignment with your values, or the life you truly want for yourself, you will encounter resistance every step of the way, and happiness will be so much more difficult and limited,” Ana explains. Engaging in work that gives you a sense of purpose and meaning can significantly boost your happiness and overall satisfaction.
2. Realize That Money Alone Won't Make You Happy
Contrary to common belief, accumulating more wealth doesn't guarantee happiness. As Richard Branson pointed out, “Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people that they associate with. In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are.”
Money alone won't bring lasting happiness, but financial security is undeniably a factor that contributes to it. Focusing on achieving financial security rather than sheer wealth can be a useful goal to work toward.
3. Find Your Work-Life Balance
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is vital for well-being, especially if you run your own business or have a demanding work environment. It's easy to become immersed in work tasks, but scheduling downtime for rest and personal activities is crucial.
Research by Harvard’s George Vaillant suggests that maintaining healthy relationships and connections is an essential ingredient of a happy life — and that takes time. Whether its unwinding at home with your family or engaging in hobbies with friends, invest some time in enjoying life outside of work.
4. Prioritize Your Mental and Physical Health
Neglecting mental and physical health can be detrimental to happiness and overall success. Entrepreneur Dejon Brooks recommends creating regular self-care routines, which may include going for walks, working out, reading or journaling.
Part of prioritizing your health is knowing when to take a break and rest. Marcel Schwantes founder of Leadership from the Core, says, “We must understand the importance of rest and renewal for our brain to stay sharp, focused, and productive during the day.” Scheduling mental breaks during the day and blocking out enough time for sleep at night is an often underestimated element of happiness.
5. Practice Generosity
Generosity, especially when it involves social connection, can significantly boost happiness levels, according to recent research. A study published in the International Journal of Happiness and Development found that giving charitably leads to emotional rewards.
However, the study also discovered that those rewards are more significant when generosity has a social element: supporting a local cause or helping a friend in need will bring more happiness than donating to an anonymous far-away charity. Genuine generosity can lead to a profound psychological benefit and a lasting sense of happiness.
6. Stay Busy Doing Things You Enjoy
A surprising revelation from psychological research is that staying busy with activities you enjoy can lead to greater happiness. The common assumption that idleness brings contentment is challenged by a study published in Psychological Science. The research found that people are generally happier when they stay busy, even if they believe they would prefer to do less.
In the entrepreneurial world, staying engaged in activities that align with your passions and interests can build your overall happiness. Spending time on hobbies and activities that contribute to personal growth and social connections can be far more rewarding than sitting on the couch relaxing.
7. Practice Optimism and Gratitude
Optimism is a potent force for happiness in the business world. Embracing change with a positive attitude and seeing challenges as opportunities can lead to a more joyful and fulfilling entrepreneurial journey. Practicing gratitude and positivity can lead to lasting shifts in your mindset, transforming you into a positive leader.
Harvard-trained happiness researcher Shawn Achor recommends a simple yet powerful daily practice: expressing gratitude and positivity towards colleagues, clients, and acquaintances. This practice not only shifts your mindset towards optimism but also fosters strong social connections—a crucial factor in long-term happiness.
No matter how ambitious your goals, it’s important to recognize that happiness is not a fleeting emotion but an essential element of a life well-lived. Doing work that aligns with your values, focusing on financial security, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance are essential building blocks. Prioritizing mental and physical health, showing generosity, staying busy with meaningful activities, and embracing optimism and gratitude are additional keys to unlocking a happier and more fulfilling entrepreneurial journey. Ultimately, happiness is a lifelong journey that can enhance your health, focus, and overall job performance.