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Why happiness is elusive

02 Dec 2010 | Press.co.nz

Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard, get the big promotion, meet the right person, win the lottery we'll be successful and therefore happy.

Yet recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have found that's not the case. Happiness itself is the precursor to success and fulfilment, not the other way around.

In the Western world most of us have been conditioned to believe that if we follow the well-worn path to success, we'll end up happy. The steps in this formula are usually finishing school, landing a good job and working hard until we've climbed to the top rung of the ladder. The trouble is this recipe is flawed.

Psychology lecturer and author Shawn Achor, in his book, The Happiness Advantage, explains why.

"If success causes happiness, then every employee who gets a promotion, every student who receives an acceptance letter, everyone who has ever accomplished a goal of any kind should be happy. But with each victory our goalposts of success keep getting pushed further and further out, so that happiness gets pushed over the horizon."

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