Most of us have it backwards. We tell ourselves some version of this story: “Once I make enough money or find that perfect mate or land that big client, I’ll be happy.” We believe that outer success will naturally lead to personal satisfaction. But the tabloids remind us that this is a myth every time they provide a glimpse of the rich, famous, and miserable.
That’s not to say that material pursuits should be disregarded, but don’t expect a pot of joy at the end of that rainbow. If anything, the inverse is true:
Happiness leads to material success because it informs your attitude. It even influences your luck.
In his book, The Luck Factor, Dr. Richard Wiseman describes a study in which he asked students to complete a series of personality tests that characterized their worldview as optimistic or pessimistic. Then both types were instructed to get a latte at a local coffee shop. Their instructions, of course, were part of a setup. Wiseman taped a crisp $5 bill on the sidewalk just outside the coffee shop, planted a “millionaire” at a table inside, and situated himself so he could surreptitiously monitor the scenario.
The subject who tested as an optimist spotted the cash and sat at the table with the millionaire. He struck up a conversation and before long they were exploring a mutual business venture.
The pessimist walked into the coffee shop without taking notice of the money. She sat next to the millionaire but kept to herself. After all, what possible good could come from talking to strangers?
Wiseman’s study is a good reminder that good fortune favors those who don’t wait for good fortune to inform their life experience. So, if you’re interested in financial success, adopt an open attitude. Smile more often, talk to strangers, and consider the possibility that a joyful outlook tips the scales in your favor. You’ll find that the cart actually follows the horse.