In a commercialised world where consumerism teaches us that happiness comes from having shinier trinkets than our neighbour, it’s perhaps a surprise to learn that happiness is an inside job.
Research increasingly shows that our emotional wellbeing is the most important factor affecting our success. In fact, the cause-effect relationship between material wealth and happiness is much more inside-outside than the other way around. This is especially relevant to entrepreneurs and professionals, where the old beliefs are usually something like, “I’ll be happy after I’ve reached my goals.”
Admittedly, it’s hard to be upbeat when times are tough, and it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of negativity. But blind positivity or “fake it until you make it” are probably equally ineffective. What matters is genuinely feeling the positive emotions.
One of the easiest ways to access positive emotions is through gratitude. While the bad news is that the effects of gratitude take a while to show up, the good news is that it’s easy to start and doesn’t take much time. More good news is that gratitude has a long-lasting effect. University of California, Berkeley, reports a study in which 5 different techniques were researched and gratitude “showed the greatest positive effect on participants’ happiness one month later.” (This link also offers an easy technique to start practicing gratitude.)
Further, according to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, “Having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain . . . and makes us healthier and happier. When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive and less resistant.”
Feeling good also regulates our heart, which in turn radiates a more “coherent” electromagnetic signal to the brain, improving mental clarity and decision making. According to HeartMath Institute, our emotions are encoded into our heartbeat and, being an electromagnetic pulse, our heart’s signals are not limited to our body, but “can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.”
As entrepreneurs, if how we are is the strongest determinant of how our business is, it surely makes sense that mastering our inner state is a pre-requisite for business success.
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