“Our daily decisions and habits have a huge impact upon both our levels of happiness and success.” - Shawn Achor
What does it mean to be a successful? Ask different people and you might get different answers. While American success used to look like - college, career, money, house, marriage, kids and retirement, Forbes tells us Millennials are done respecting that formula. They are in good company as many of us are opting instead to focus on, “a life guided by a holistic focus on well-being, community and sustainability.”
If “getting ahead” is not a linchpin for success any longer, than the traits of successful people must shift as well. Being wealthy, clever, ambitious and putting the ends before the means has little to do with holistic well-being.
Here are some modern traits of successful people worth emulating:
Generosity - Sure, it makes the world a better place, but it’s also great for personal success. People with high levels of well being are gracious with others and care about giving back. Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky has confirmed that altruists have a greater sense of well-being. She asked students to commit five random acts of kindness each week for six weeks. Those who engaged in acts of kindness showed a 42% increase in happiness. Being generous also creates a “positive feedback loop,” reported upon here by researchers at Harvard and the University of British Columbia. Essentially, being generous not only makes you happier, but it makes you want to keep giving and makes the world a better place. What greater success could there be?
Optimism - There are a myriads of proven benefits of optimism, most notably, resilience, which can be key to success by all definitions. And, yes, you can choose to pursue and cultivate optimism as a mindset. The trick is mastering optimism even during adversity. The important thing to remember is the formula scientists have discovered. They have attributed 50% of a person’s happiness to genetic factors, 40% to thoughts and actions (cue optimism) and only 10% to actual life circumstance.
Gratitude - If you’re interested in well-being as a hallmark of success, then you’re interested in gratitude, which has been linked to making people healthier, happier, less materialistic and more generous. Like optimism, cultivate it in all circumstances to really dial up the life success.
Perseverance - You can’t help your community, find sustainability or succeed at any task without it. This too can be fostered as much of it has to with mindset. Often sticking with the task at hand has much to do with a person’s take on failure. People with perseverance understand that failure is not a reflection on self worth. It’s just something you tried and so, persevere and keep trying. Your character and worth remain the same.
Mental Strength - “Developing mental strength is about finding the courage to live according to your values and being bold enough to create your own definition of success.” So says this Forbes article, 5 Powerful Exercises to Improve Your Mental Strength. And while some may be more inclined, experts agreed mental toughness can be cultivated. PsychCentral.com author, Gary Seeman, Ph.D, identifies 10 specific attributes of mental toughness that can be developed: Intention, Effort, Courage, Awareness, Critical Thinking, Perspective, Patience, Flexibility, Self Care and Support.
So next time you’re feeling dissatisfied with your position in life, as a Baby Boomer, Gen Xer or Millennial, consider working on these traits and not worrying about circumstance. The new success follows those who build character.