Why is it good to be happy? 

Episode 2 of Part 1 of our Introduction series: Setting the stage for success.

Habits:  Know thyself  |  Quiet

Skills:  Happiness | Self-awareness

Description:  This episode introduces the concept that success often comes as a result of happiness not the other way around. We outline the problem of always delaying happiness until you have a form of success or some material thing that you want, and why it doesn't help you feel happier. Plus we'll identify that happiness as a form of pleasure is usually fleeting, while a sense of well-being can last longer. 

How this lesson might be discussed with your child

The overall focus of this lesson is that some of the benefits of being happy—or in a state of well-being—are that they make you more likely to achieve success.

Unfortunately, the alternate view, that you need to achieve something, or get some material thing before being happy, is more likely to have you never achieving success, as there's always a new milestone that needs to be reached, so happiness is never fully realised.

Broadly speaking, this can be expanded upon in any discussion around happiness, and what it means. Questions that might prompt this type of discussion may include:

  • What does it mean to be happy?

  • When are you most happy?

  • How long should happiness last?

  • Where have you been disappointed by believing that working hard would lead to happiness?

  • How would you handle that same situation in the future?

Another opportunity for students who are disengaged from a particular subject might be to address why they're not happy (or in a state of well-being). Is this a belief that they're not smart, or no-good at this subject (a fixed mindset), or are they struggling with a particular problem or concept which is making them frustrated? Do they expect that they'll be happy if they solve it - or will the next problem make any happiness short-lived? Can they get excited by the challenge that the problem presents, rather than worrying about the outcome of getting it right or wrong? After all, failing is simply an opportunity to learn what not to do.

Some specific discussion points

Once again, the discussion of any literary works, historical figures, or current events featuring prominent individuals offers an opportunity to discuss the implications of happiness within characters or individuals, and their levels of success. This can be take further into broader questions of seemingly successful people in the broader media. Who would you define as successful and do you think that happiness helped them achieve it? (This might also lead nicely into the next episode which covers the question of how we define success). Questions may include:

  • Is [an arguably successful character/individual] a happy person?

  • Do you think that happiness (or well-being) was helpful in achieving their success?

  • In what ways has happiness (or well-being) helped them to succeed?

  • Is there an emotion that might have been better or worse?

  • What could [character/individual] have done to achieve greater success?

  • Would [an arguably unsuccessful character/individual name] be more successful if they weren't unhappy?

  • What benefits would being happier provide that might lead to more success?

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." — Hermain Cain

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you believe this quote represents the truth? Why / Why not?

  • Do you have to love what you are doing to be successful at it? Why / Why not?

  • If happiness is key to success, are there any other emotions that are also needed or helpful?

  • What emotions might harm your chances for success?

Further information on this topic

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper on this topic, you might be interested in watching:


Shawn Achor – The Happy Secret to Better Work.


Or you might like to read:

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles That Fuel Success and Performance at Work.
by Shawn Achor, 2010.

Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change.
by Shawn Achor, 2013.