Gini Dietrich

Is Happiness the Same As Being Dumb?

By: Gini Dietrich | March 23, 2011 | 
132

Are happy people dumb?

I just read that phrase in a Harvard Business Review blog and was offended. Because I’m happy. And I’m not dumb. But, of course, it enticed me to read on.

The blogger, Shawn Achor, says,

These sentiments are not uncommon. I believe we have a cultural assumption that happy people are anti-intellectual, delusional, or shallow. We’ve all heard the saying that “ignorance is bliss.” But, in truth, society has a fundamental ignorance about bliss.

Here’s part of the problem. Everyone knows someone who is brilliant and unhappy. And everyone knows someone who is successful and not happy.

Sure. But do they go hand-in-hand? We all know money doesn’t buy happiness. Does this mean, now, that intellect doesn’t mean happiness, either?

My Vistage Chair has a theory: People are put on this earth to have relationships with children (not necessarily your own, or maybe he just tells me that to make me feel better), to have a relationship with some sort of higher being that drives your values and beliefs, and to live your passions. If you have all three, you will be happy.

Achor’s premise is similar. And no, you don’t have to be dumb.

Happiness is the single greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy. Only 25% of your job successes are predicted based upon intelligence and technical skills, though we spend most of our education and most companies hire based upon this category.

The “silent 75%” of long-term job success is based upon your ability to positively adapt to the world: Optimism, social support creation, and viewing stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.

So the question I leave you today is this: What are you doing every day to increase your “silent 75%”? Let’s hear it!

P.S. Erica Allison, did you see “viewing stress as a challenge instead of a threat”? Aren’t you glad you gave up stress for Lent??

* Thanks to 909Sickle for the image

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

Spin Sucks in Your Inbox

Leave a Reply

132 Comments on "Is Happiness the Same As Being Dumb?"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 4 months ago
I’d like to think of myself as incredibly happy and at least moderately smart (but you can feel free to call me brilliant, and I think you may have on either Twitter or Facebook on at least one occasion. Feel free to do it again…) A lot of it comes down to how you measure: a) happiness, b) smarts, c) success. I once met with a “coach/consultant” at the insistence of a mutual friend. I’m still not exactly sure what this particular “coach” or whatever he is, does for a living. He asked me: “What’s your business plan? What are… Read more »
faybiz
5 years 4 months ago

So being like playdough or silly putty = good thing- I’m all set.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@faybiz LOL! I would say you’re definitely all set!

Jensenborger6
Jensenborger6
5 years 4 months ago

I think the smartest people realize you shouldn’t take life too seriously.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago
@KenMueller That was a very hard lesson for me to learn early on in the growth of my business. i thought lots of employees and big top-line numbers meant success. And it sure does present the perception of success. But we weren’t making any money; in fact, we were going into debt just to make payroll. Having all those people around wasn’t generating profits, but it was creating HR headaches. Now that I’ve figured out what my success means (yes, I do want to make a gazillion dollars) and how to get there strategically and methodically, I’m MUCH happier. There… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@Jensenborger6 But does that make them happy?

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich Yesss! you called me brilliant. and friend (which, by the way is far more important). And while I said I don’t want to make a million dollars, I do want people in my life who make a gazillion dollars…and consider me their friend….and want to share…..

Lori
5 years 4 months ago
” The “silent 75%” of long-term job success is based upon your ability to positively adapt to the world” What!?! Does that mean we’re not supposed to try and change the world! O this is about acceptance, mark of maturity. As I Tweeted to you when I didn’t know what you and Joey were talking about, someone asked me once if I thought I would worry less if I were less intelligent. I remember hearing once that intelligent people worry more. I know my husband, very intelligent, watches the news (so I don’t have to) and he does all the… Read more »
johnfalchetto
5 years 4 months ago

I’m not dumb, just happy 🙂

How do you define happy?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@KenMueller LOL! I’ll think about sharing.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@johnfalchetto That’s because YOU are living the dream!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@Lori Oh crap. Is that why I worry so much?! You come across as a very happy person. You’re always optimistic and upbeat. I’d say you ARE changing the world.

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich think about it? what could you possibly do with a gazillion dollars? Look at it this way: your post is about happiness. Don’t you want me to be happy? And wouldn’t sharing make YOU happy? It’s a win-win! I’m only suggesting this for YOU and YOUR happiness, Gini. This is not about me and being selfish…

KGoerlich
KGoerlich
5 years 4 months ago
@KenMueller I greatly value your words, Ken and the words of the author of this blog. I recently gave up my potentially “High Paying” career to chase my passions. While going after what I love, I realized it is no longer about the money. I just want to make enough to continue to live in NYC and most of all, give to others what others have given to me. I came to NYC to be a fashion designer, but I’m starting to think I will leave here as a yoga teacher instead. When someone constantly complains to me about hating… Read more »
KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 4 months ago

@KGoerlich why thank you, Kate! Sounds like a rather expensive Yoga education!

KGoerlich
KGoerlich
5 years 4 months ago

@KenMueller It has been worth every penny!

bdorman264
bdorman264
5 years 4 months ago
Hell yeah, I’m as happy as they come and about as deep as a sheet of paper; I sure do sleep good at night too…………..w/ a smile. I avoid unhappy people or at least try to brighten their day. Am I being naive by being too optimistic; am I viewed as being a simpleton………….that’s a rhetorical question………don’t answer……….. I think some (too many) people take themselves way too seriously. Because of this maybe people think of them as serious-minded, getting down to business intelligent types. I can be as serious as I need to be but it’s my nature to… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@KGoerlich @KenMueller I LOVE this Kate! You’ve learned what takes some people a lifetime (and then some) to learn. I’m impressed!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@KenMueller You make a good case…

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich @KGoerlich This is where I proudly say that Kate is a friend of mine, and my personal seamstress. The woman who took the no-longer wearable moosepants and converted them into a moose dog! (yeah, try to figure that one out!)

autumnmthompson
autumnmthompson
5 years 4 months ago

Considering you spend the majority of your life working, you have to adapt to make yourself happy. I’ve worked in some interesting places. Everyone was miserable. Doing what they hated. This bleeds into your personal life whether you want it to or not putting more stress on the situation. Do what makes you happy and the rest will fall into place! Happiness is a state of mind.

KGoerlich
KGoerlich
5 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich @KenMueller Still learning! It has been a long hard road but I’m grateful for the hard times. They are what pushed me to learn. And yes, my greatest design project was certainly the moosepants dog project!

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 4 months ago
As an introverted pessimist, I’ll admit…I don’t always get “happy people.” Not that I’d go so far as to say they are dumb, but have thought, “Seriously. How can you be THAT happy ALL the time? What are you ignoring?” The reality is probably that I’m jealous of the happy people. And, don’t get me wrong…I have happy. And, I’ll admit that during times when I try to “think positively” well, I feel most positive and…happy. Life really is what you make of it. But, I do believe it’s much easier for some. I love what your Vistage Chair said… Read more »
Lori
5 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich My avatar is happy – it’s because I’m in the bosom of my family (husband to my right, son to my left, daughter farther right).

Your avatar does not suggest worry my dear! But I think you are very intelligent! (I should know, apparently I am too! LOL)

MARLdblE
MARLdblE
5 years 4 months ago

Lol! First of all hats of to the person who gave up stress for Lent. I opted for giving up sugar…and I thought that was a tall order.

Secondly, I had the same exact reaction you did to that statement and was very taken with the assertion that “Happiness is the single greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy.”

I’ve never thought about it that way, but I couldn’t agree with the idea more. Ultimately, it’s all about mindset and perspective. It shapes the way you see the world and the way the world see you.

Narciso17
Narciso17
5 years 4 months ago
Great Piece, Gini. It Seems to Me That People Get Stuck on the 80’s ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ Mantra From Bobby McFerrin….Unfortunately, This Great Song Gets Associated with the Foolhardiness of the Decade (i.e. Not Being Responsible with Money, Health, Etc.)…And, It Seems to Me, That It May Have Trickled Over to Today…Rightfully So: – You’ve Got to Be Responsible – You Have to Be Smart – You Have to Be Quick & Nimble BUT, That Should *Never* Get in the Way of Your Happiness. Cause, at the End of the Day, Unless You’re Saving the World, What You’re Doing… Read more »
jgwhitt
jgwhitt
5 years 4 months ago
What a refreshing post! I like what your Vistage chair said, although I would add one element into the mix – serving others. I also think the order is important. I find I am more happy when I focus on the first two elements rather than primarily focusing on following my passions – for example. I think happy people are less selfish and more willing to give and contribute time, means, talents, etc. Your question about the silent 75% is a great one. It prompts me to want to work on viewing stress as a challenge rather than a threat.… Read more »
jgwhitt
jgwhitt
5 years 4 months ago

I agree – we all need to make some room to shut up and dance ;)! Thanks for this comment. @Narciso17 narciso17

T60Productions
5 years 4 months ago

Gini… I love that quote about the silent 75%. Stealing it! Okay, I’ll attribute. 🙂

Anyway, I’m a half-full guy by nature, but when I get stressed I try to remind myself that as passionate as I am about my job, other things are more important. My wonderful wife, our first baby on the way, these are things that give me comfort. Knowing they’re in my corner makes all the difference.

–Tony Gnau

wabbitoid
5 years 4 months ago

Maybe you don’t have to be dumb, but I want to put in a plug for asking dumb questions. That is, really simple, “What s really going on here?” kinds of questions. That’s my 75% – wait, I think it takes more of my life than that ….

(BTW, giving up stress for Lent implies that you enjoy stress. Just a thought. 🙂 )

jgwhitt
jgwhitt
5 years 4 months ago

Very true about seeing what you do as a “vocation” or “calling.” I too do not get people who are constantly dreaming of their next vacation or as you wrote, the weekend. It is just not worth it. We need to find meaning in what we are doing in the here and now. Thanks for your insightful (brilliant) comment! @KenMueller

PeterFaur
PeterFaur
5 years 4 months ago

Gini, great post! I hear echoes of Micah 6:8 (to call upon some ancient wisdom): “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

rachaelseda
5 years 4 months ago

I love it! I what call myself a positive person but there’s always times when stress seems to drowned you. At that point I take a deep breath and get all my ducks in a row. I remember what is important, I prioritize and I remember to take break to and have some fun!

ladylaff
ladylaff
5 years 4 months ago

Love this post Gini. Happiness is the best revenge – ha ha!! When I’m feeling blue all I need to do is type “Muppet Show” into YouTube 😉

EricaAllison
5 years 4 months ago
@wabbitoid As the girl who ‘gave up stress for Lent’, let me explain (or better yet, check it out in my blog post (http://www.allisondevelopmentgroup.com/blog/2011/03/dear-stress-kiss-it/). 🙂 I chose to give it up because it was something that I viewed as holding me back from the things in life I’m meant to do…make that do well. However, you’re right in the thought that there’s a bit of enjoyment there. I think many of us, myself included, get caught up in the ‘busy, busy, busy’ mode and if I’m not busy, I’m not really accomplishing. It becomes what I imagine coming off a… Read more »
Narciso17
Narciso17
5 years 4 months ago

@jgwhitt Ha! Always Time to Shut up and Dance! I’m Thinking This Should Merit a Blog Entry

EricaAllison
5 years 4 months ago
Wow. If Happiness is the single most competitive advantage in the modern economy, then I have this thing all wrapped up! Seriously, I make it my mission to be happy. I chose to do what I do in life because it makes me happy. I realized a long time ago that doing something simply for the money alone does not equate to happiness. In fact, the more I do something that is purely for the money and has no passion or happiness attached to it, the more I hate it and the less likely I am to be successful doing… Read more »
meganbeausang
meganbeausang
5 years 4 months ago
If I were in the office I would give you a big hug. I love that happiness is “the silent 75%.” Coming out of the financial services industry, I can tell you, it is so true. No matter how much money my old colleagues made, they were the most miserable people on the face of the planet. There is a reason my old company doesn’t exist anymore. 🙂 Thank god I am at a place that makes me happy! Success is right around the corner! To answer your question, first of all, I made a huge gigantic career change last… Read more »
rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel
5 years 4 months ago
@ginidietrich @KenMueller Where I live there are a LOT of really rich, successful people living out early retirement in beautiful mansions overlooking the mountains. Many are easygoing, pleasant, and appear happy. Many others are arrogant, demanding, always disappointed with one thing or another, and constantly worrying about what everyone else is up to. Many are truly brilliant and have built everything they have themselves, many never had to work a day in their lives. My point? The money has not affected their basic personalities or decisions to be happy at all, it seems. Rather, it seems to amplify whatever tendencies… Read more »
Marcus_Sheridan
5 years 4 months ago

If you’re happy and you know it, don’t be afraid to show it 😉

What am I doing to be happy Gini? I think the biggest key is focusing on giving as much value to other as possible, and then letting the chips fall as they may. Relationships—that’s what makes me happy.

Marcus

johnfalchetto
5 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich Gini, well I am living my dream but happiness means different things for different people.

I think happiness really depends on how one defines it.

GoBeyondIdeas
GoBeyondIdeas
5 years 4 months ago

I’m thrilled to see this post! Being someone who is generally optimistic I’ve had people presume that there was something I wasn’t ‘getting’ about life. The contrary is true imho; I’m here to be, not do – as long as I can I simply choose to be a positive version of myself, rather than a negative one. Thanks!

jackielamp
jackielamp
5 years 4 months ago
I love this post! In my mind, happiness is a choice. I’m not saying you need to force it where it’s not, but there is an upside to everything. And sometimes you need to CHOOSE to see it. Bad things happen. Life is stressful. We can’t win them all. But do you dwell on that, or do you find a way to move forward? It’s about accepting situations, knowing who you are, and living life accordingly. It’s also about perspective. If you’re unhappy, maybe you haven’t taken the time to put things into perspective.I had a terrible health issue requiring… Read more »
jessostroff
jessostroff
5 years 4 months ago
I love this. I struggle on a daily basis with a close friend who believes that I’m ignorant for striving to be happy all the time, and that being ‘content’ is more important than being ‘happy’ because happiness comes and goes. He believes that if you are content with your day-to-day the way it is, then you’re happy. But I believe that you need to strive for that extra thing that makes you feel amazing, whatever it is. I don’t think he has experienced true bliss because he never pushes for more. It’s partly ignorance, but mostly fear. Because when… Read more »
jessostroff
jessostroff
5 years 4 months ago
I love this. I struggle on a daily basis with a close friend who believes that I’m ignorant for striving to be happy all the time, and that being ‘content’ is more important than being ‘happy’ because happiness comes and goes. He believes that if you are content with your day-to-day the way it is, then you’re happy. But I believe that you need to strive for that extra thing that makes you feel amazing, whatever it is. I don’t think he has experienced true bliss because he never pushes for more. It’s partly ignorance, but mostly fear. Because when… Read more »
jessostroff
jessostroff
5 years 4 months ago
I love this. I struggle on a daily basis with a close friend who believes that I’m ignorant for striving to be happy all the time, and that being ‘content’ is more important than being ‘happy’ because happiness comes and goes. He believes that if you are content with your day-to-day the way it is, then you’re happy. But I believe that you need to strive for that extra thing that makes you feel amazing, whatever it is. I don’t think he has experienced true bliss because he never pushes for more. It’s partly ignorance, but mostly fear. Because when… Read more »
jessostroff
jessostroff
5 years 4 months ago

I love this. I struggle with a close friend who believes that being ‘content’ is more important than being ‘happy’ because happiness comes and goes. He believes that when you

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith
5 years 4 months ago

@EricaAllison @wabbitoid

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith
5 years 4 months ago

I’m so happy you wrote this. And I think your Vistage chair is brilliant!

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith
5 years 4 months ago

@EricaAllison @wabbitoid sorry for theblank comment. What ireally need here is a “like” button! I’m off to read the post!

wpDiscuz
[postmatic_subscribe_widget]