Better mood, better outcomes: happiness is the cause of hard work, not the result.

Author:Onderko, Patty

Being happy is an end in itself. But it turns out that a good mood is just the beginning: Decades of positive psychology research have shown that happy people are more likely to live longer, have more satisfying relationships and marriages, and raise happier children. They're also more likely to achieve their professional goals. Although it was long thought that a good job, promotions and raises were precursors for happiness, the opposite is actually true.

In their landmark study, "The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?" positive psychology pioneers Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., and Ed Diener, Ph.D., answered their own question: Yes, positive well-being and mood leads to greater work performance, productivity and success. But how do you harness the energy of your good mood when work seems to squash it with stress and pressure?

EXERCISE. We put this tip first, devoid of any clever language, because exercise is the single best intervention for improving mood (outside of professional therapy if you're experiencing depression or anxiety). Working out releases endorphins, feel-good chemicals that can have an immediate, uplifting effect. But the benefits of exercise go far beyond that in-the-moment high. Loads of research has found that even moderate daily exercise boosts creativity, focus, memory and motivation.

Not sold yet? How about this fact: Regular exercise can also improve IQ. A 2013 study out of Sweden followed more than 1 million men between the ages of 15 and 54. Young men who improved their physical fitness levels between the ages of 15 and 18 also improved their IQs, and physical fitness at all ages was associated with higher levels of education and socioeconomic status.

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