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Why stress stands in the way of your success

While hard work, long hours, and stress are typically seen as the ingredients to success, stress can actually be a roadblock to greatness.

successful entrepreneur

The recipe to success doesn’t include stress

Turn on the television, listen to the radio, or flip through the newspaper and you’re inundated with negative. Whether it’s murders, failing schools, government scandals, international turmoil, terror threats, or just plain old local crime, we’ve become surrounded by the bleak and depressing.


I feel sick

Society as a whole has started developing medical school syndrome, and walk around in a state of fear, stress, depression, and hypochondria. These stressors cause strain on the body, increase the frequency of illnesses and can cause serious health problems, such as depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

A little positivity goes a long way

Psychologist Shawn Achor addresses the idea that positivity impacts how your brain functions in this TEDxBloomington talk. “The lens in which you view the world is the lens in which you view happiness,” he states, “If we can change the lens we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.” Achor argues that dopamine, the chemical in the brain that is released when experiencing pleasure, actually activates the learning centers of the brain. Essentially, being more positive opens the door to more learning and productivity.

Stress and productivity don’t mix

When your brain is stressed, it is 31% less productive than its happy, stress-free counterpart. Individuals utilizing positive thinking experience greater successes, with salespeople closing 37% more deals, and doctors becoming 19% better at faster and more accurate diagnoses, for example.

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Success is all in your head

Achor goes on to explain that IQ predicts only 25% of job success; instead optimism and social support act as the greatest influencers.

The mentality that with hard work comes success is backwards thinking. By constantly raising the bar, and upping personal standards about success creates an environment where happiness is virtually unattainable. Success should not be liked to a sales quota, always increasing the expectations after each goal is reached, but instead celebrated.

Train your brain

Achor suggests practicing intentional optimism. Start two minutes at a time, 21 days in a row concentrating on being grateful and focusing the positive events that occurred in the previous 24 hours. Practice this brain exercise with physical exercise, meditation, and a combination of random and conscious acts of kindness to achieve ideal optimism.

Counter the unavoidable

Hard work, long hours, and stress seem to be a standard equation for most leadership roles, small business owners, and entrepreneurs. While stress may be unavoidable, it can be countered with positivity in order to achieve greater success and personal happiness.


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Written By

Megan Noel, a veteran ex-educator with a PhD in Early Childhood Education, enjoys researching life through the eyes of her two young children, while writing about her family’s adventures on With a nearly a decade in small business and marketing, this freelance writer spends most evenings pouring over new ideas and writing articles, while indulging in good food and better wine.



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