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Posted 01.26.06

Positive Attitude, Happiness are Keys to Success, MU Researcher Finds

Happier People Stay Married Longer, Have Higher Incomes and Receive More Promotions than Unhappy People

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Success can be defined in many ways, such as achieving a societal goal, owning a home or getting married. Regardless of the various ways success may be defined, most people agree that any sort of success can bring happiness to the person who achieves it. Now, in a study published in December's Psychological Bulletin, a University of Missouri-Columbia researcher has found that the relationship between happiness and success is mutual, and that existing happiness and positive attitudes can help breed success.

Laura King."It appears that happiness, rooted in personality and in past successes, leads to approach behaviors that often lead to further success," said Laura King, professor of psychological sciences at MU.

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Conducting research with Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California-Riverside and Ed Diener at the University of Illinois, King examined 225 research papers on happiness that cover 293 samples and 275,000 people. They found that happy people, those who frequently experience positive emotions, tend to be more successful and accomplished in many aspects of their lives.

In one set of samples the researchers examined, they found that happy workers enjoy multiple advantages over their less happy peers. Happy people were more likely to secure job interviews and be evaluated more positively by supervisors. In addition, they are less likely to show signs of burnout and more likely to have jobs with autonomy, variety and meaning. The evidence also pointed to happier workers having higher incomes.

Happy people also have success in social relationships; they report having more close friends and being more satisfied with those friendships. Not surprisingly, feelings of loneliness and not having any friends were strong predictors of unhappiness, especially in older people. In addition, married people also were happier than those who are single, divorced or widowed, and happiness in marriage was closely tied to being happy in general.



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