Study Finds Inner Kindness Is the Key to Success, Happiness

Kindness is not typically associated with success, but Stanford researcher Emma Seppala has found evidence that supports the link between happiness and success.

Seppala has examined high-success environments such as Yale, Silicon Valley, and Stanford to find the link between happiness and success. Though these places were producing some of the best work business-wise, Seppala found that burnout and delaying “the search for happiness” were common. The belief, instead, was on focusing on commercial success and hoping that inner happiness will follow – ultimately flawed when pursuing happiness.

“If you prioritize your happiness, you will actually be more productive, more creative, more resilient, more energized, more charismatic and influential,” Seppala said.

Instead of focusing outwardly, Seppala advises that we look inward, and embrace being kinder to ourselves. She details all of her findings on happiness and success in her latest book, The Happiness Track.

“Research shows that self-criticism is basically self-sabotage, whereas self-compassion – treating yourself with the understanding, mindfulness and kindness with which you would treat a friend – leads to far greater resilience, productivity and well-being.”

Our dependency on high-intensity emotions was also found to be a link to unhappiness, according to Seppala’s research. In Western culture especially, these high-intensity emotions are closer linked to ideas of success. But while these high-intensity emotions can be motivational in the short-term, they can also lead to stress and harmful effects in the long-run.


Seppala also recommends taking time to “rest and digest” to restore health and embrace more inner positivity for long-term success. This supports other evidence and experts that say to create good habits or quality time with puppies to encourage happiness. Even if we incorporate these ideas slowly, we can create a drastic shift in our ideas of success as well as our long-term happiness.

(H/T World Economic Forum Blog)

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Cameron is a tech and culture journalist, comic book enthusiast, and lives near New York City. A graduate of Stockton University, she's using her words to shift the world of online journalism, one byline at a time. When she's not writing, she can be found reading sci-fi novels, collecting succulents, and planning her next obnoxious hair color. Cameron is an editorial fellow at Tech.Co. Send your tips to or tweet @BlkGirlManifest.
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