laughter5The Roman astronomer, Ptolemy (1500 A.D.), shocked the world by asserting the idea of a universe where all the planets rotated around the earth in concentric circles. It was far from perfect. It wasn’t as predictive of the planet’s movement as many “experts” would have liked. But it was better than anyone had come up with until that time.

About 43 years later (1543 A.D.), Nicolas Copernicus blew that model apart with his theory of a sun-centered solar system. It was revolutionary – not perfect – but it displaced the older model overnight.

What’s cosmology have to do with happiness? Happiness also has more than one model. What model best explains where happiness comes from? Is there a model that is most predictive of happiness? The answer is yes.

Why is it that so many privileged people aren’t happy? What do healthy, affluent, educated – i.e., privileged people – have to be unhappy about? At the core of that question is the key to understanding an accurate model of happiness. And it’s as revolutionary as Copernicus’ model was to Ptolemy’s.

It turns out that everything I learned about happiness and success growing up was misguided. The lessons were not malicious, and were more covert than overt. The basic premise ingrained in me was that having what you want leads to happiness. The question, “why are so many privileged people unhappy?,” assumes that the external world is predictive of our happiness quotient. But is it?

A study done by Shawn Achor shows that if I knew everything about your external world I could only predict 10% of your happiness. 90% is predicted by the way your brain processes the world around you. In other words, it’s an inside out model – the opposite of what I learned growing up.

Happiness leads to success a lot more – a very lot more – than success leads to happiness. I believe that’s the way life started. As a child I had a sense of well-being. It seems I woke up happy, and that mindset lead to various successes throughout my childhood days. Overtime the model slowly shifted to an outside-in-model. The circumstances on the outside began to determine what I experienced on the inside. Looking back, the inside-out-model seemed to be a lot more productive.

Current research has proven this to be true. If we change our formula for happiness, we will begin to more positively and courageously affect the reality around us. That’s why studies have shown that only 25% of job success is predicted by IQ. The other 75% is predicted by:

  • Your outlook and positivity
  • Your ability to manage stress as a challenge
  • Your network of mutual supporters

Research has shown repeatedly that

Work Harder = More Successful = Happier

is flawed at it’s core. The problem is that happiness is on the opposite side of success. Every time we succeed, our brain changes the goal. As a result, our brain never gets to happiness – that is unless we input new information into our brain. We need to “change” our brain’s mind.

What’s the new model?

Happiness leads to success more than success leads to happiness.

A positive brain is 31% more productive than a negative, neutral, or stressed brain. We change the model by changing our thinking. It must become a habit. So everyday……

  • Think of several (at least 3) things to be grateful for. One researcher formulated it this way:

 Happiness = Gratitude ÷ Gratification


Happiness = Wanting what you have/Having what you want

The higher the gratitude, the greater the happiness.

The lower the gratification, the greater the happiness.

Working on both is a two-barreled strategy.

  • Keep a journal. This helps you stop and reflect on what’s really important to you.
  • Develop a pattern of doing random acts of kindness. This creates ripples of positivity all around you. You will discover that it’s contagious.

Starting today will help you build momentum that will take you right into the new year.