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The Six Keys to Happiness and Success

To mark International Day of Happiness on March 20, we share author Emma Seppala’s thoughts on the key to happiness and why success and well-being is often the opposite of what we’ve been taught. Everyone wants to be happy and successful, of course, yet the pursuit of both has never been more frustrating. In her book, The Happiness Track, Emma refutes the idea that success depends on doing everything that’s thrown at us; that success depends on our drive and that achievement cannot happen without stress.


Here she summarises the six strategies – drawn from the latest scientific research on happiness, resilience, will-power, creativity and mindfulness – for achieving a fulfilling, successful and anxiety-free life.

  1. Live (or work) in the moment. Instead of always thinking about what’s next on your to-do list, focus on the task or conversation at hand. You will become not only more productive but also more charismatic.
  2. Tap into your resilience. Instead of living in overdrive, train your nervous system to bounce back from setbacks. You will naturally reduce stress and thrive in the face of difficulties and challenges.
  3. Manage your energy. Instead of engaging in exhausting thoughts and emotions, learn to manage your stamina by remaining calm and centred. You’ll be able to save precious mental energy for the tasks that need it most.
  4. Do nothing. Instead of spending all your time focused intently on your field, make time for idleness, fun and irrelevant interests. You will become more creative and innovative and will be more likely to come up with breakthrough ideas.
  5. Be good to yourself. Instead of only playing to your strengths and being self-critical, be compassionate with yourself and understand that your brain is built to learn new things. You will improve your ability to excel in the face of challenge and learn from mistakes.
  6. Show compassion to others. Instead of remaining focused on yourself, express compassion to and show interest in those around you, and maintain supportive relationships with your colleagues and boss or employees. You will dramatically increase the loyalty and commitment of those around you, thereby improving productivity, performance and influence.

The strategies are not complicated; applying them to your daily life does not require complex training or huge lifestyle changes. In fact, these strategies tap into resources you already have. You already have the capacity to come up with brilliant ideas, to remain calm in the face of overwhelming demands, to stay present when your mind pulls you away, to be kind to yourself and others, to sit with your thoughts and rest when the world tells you to go, go, go.


Whatever your personal endeavour – full-time mum, CEO, community worker or ballerina – know that you already have all it takes to be happy and successful; that a stress-free
and fulfilled life is not only possible but also the secret to personal and professional success.