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The Puritans left us much more than Thanksgiving.  They left a whole life philosophy that most of us follow: “If you work hard, you’ll succeed; if you’re successful, you’ll be happier.”  But as Shawn Achor reveals in a very amusing, 12 minute Ted talk, that’s backwards.  It’s happiness that gets success!

In fact, those who start happy, those outliers from the average, they perform better, think better, achieve more, and have more success in every arena from home to work to school.  They’ve got motivation!

The Happiness-Motivation Connection

Happiness is internal.  Let’s be clear about what happiness is:  this is not party happy, and wishing, self-control, or putting on a happy front won’t make it so.  And it’s not a Pollyanna, overly cheerful optimism that ignores reality.  It might be seen by others, but that matters not.  Happiness is our inner, emotional colors that range from mild interest to outright awe.

Feelings can be changed.  To be truthful, some emotions don’t fall in the happiness box, come unbidden, and aren’t positive.  But those with the happiness edge know how to change them.  It’s not by will or self-control, but by thinking. Change your thoughts, and you’ll change your feelings and, quite possibly, your life as well!  Think of a task that you could fail, and you’ll be stressed for sure.  Think of that task as a chance to show what you know, and you’ll feel optimistic, engaged, even eager to begin!

Happiness increases motivation!  Happiness comes in 3 forms, and each one motivates a different and desirable experience. It could be pleasure in the moment, progress over time, and/or purpose overall.

Graphic which reads "Happiness Experiences: Purpose, Progress, Pleasure. Happiness increases motivation!"

Here’s a little taught secret: if you put more happiness into your experience, you’ll be more motivated.  Read on to find out how!

To Create More Pleasure…

Pleasure is short-term and often immediate.  These experiences run the gamut from fun to pleasant, relaxed, satisfying, exciting, and enjoyable.  They come from two sources:  your sensory delights and your positive reactions.  Pleasing sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures increase the bliss.

Reactions of curiosity, newness, freedom, beauty, being nurtured, and belonging raise the joy. To get more pleasure going, give your senses a lift and/or enjoy times with others.  You might improve the environment where the experience happens, or plan events that include nature, purchases, social gatherings, personal care, concerts, and exhibitions. Here are two practical examples:

  • Want to change a habit, like not exercising enough?  Try adding real or pictures of natural beauty to your space or work out with others.
  • Want to stop procrastinating on a task like practicing a skill?  Add sensory pleasure like color or give yourself the freedom to do just a little.  Saying you’ll only work for 10 minutes often leads to a lot more and stifles procrastination!

To Create More Progress…

Progress creates the happiness of satisfaction, pride, growth, and confidence.  It’s all about learning, goals, and achievements that need time and effort.  But as the category states, there needs to be recognized, forward movement to get the happiness.  So avoid what’s too hard or too easy; those tasks create frustration, boredom, and quitting.

To get the satisfactions of progress, focus on activities that require concentration, learning, challenge, skills, problem solving.  And make sure they’re meaningful and increase your confidence, clarity, control, progress, pride, self-esteem, achievements.

Here are two practical tips:

1. Want to make more progress on assigned tasks, like homework or a work job?  Follow this creative plan:

  • First, review relevant and expert information and techniques.
  • Second, divide the task into pieces that are really short and easy to finish.
  • Third, have resources – like people, texts, videos – ready to use when frustration creeps in.
  • Fourth, stop at the end of a planned piece!  Identify your progress, take an enjoyable break, and pat yourself on the back!

2. Keep moving on up by spending quality time with expert teachers, coaches, authors, and/or tutors!

To Create More Purpose…

Purposeful experiences create the happiness of gratitude, hope, love, and fulfillment.  They explore your potential, core values, creativity, and higher powers. The happiness can come from small or large, solo, partnered, or group experiences that put you in touch with your gifts to the world and your best self.

To enjoy the happiness of purpose, explore your values, strengths, gifts, and virtues.  Adding what inspires you will bring your purpose to life and life to your happiness.

Here are some suggestions for creating the happiness motivation of purpose

  • Create a personal mission statement.
  • BE creative just for yourself.  If drawing stick figures, knitting, writing, dancing brings a feeling of joy, do it.
  • Serve others.  Volunteer, contribute, mentor, model, or inspire.  One or many, no matter.  The happiness is in the doing.

In the End…

Happiness and motivation are intertwined.  The zest that makes for enjoyment is the drive that makes us motivated.  And it can be created by the power of the mind to think, create, and shape our experiences.

  • To create more motivation in the moment, build in pleasure.  Add what’s pleasing, relaxing, satisfying, exciting, or enjoyable.
  • To create more motivation over time, design experiences that lead to progress. Use what brings satisfaction, pride, growth, or confidence.
  • To create more overall motivation in your life, explore and expand your purpose.  Bring in the experiences that inspire gratitude, hope, love, and fulfillment.

Eliminate Back-to-School Stress! How?

With our 5-lesson SMART Start Tutor-Coaching program.

– Guided Self Assessment
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About the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA)

The USDLA, a 501(c) 3 non-profit association formed in 1987, reaches 20,000 people globally with sponsors and members operating in and influencing 46% of the $913 billion. U.S. education and training market. USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training and serves the needs of the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking, and opportunity. Distance learning and training constituencies served include pre-K-12 education, home schooling, higher education, and continuing education, as well as business, corporate, military, government, and telehealth markets.