Most of us were taught that if we work hard, we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we'll be happy. But recent scientific discoveries have shown that this formula is actually backward:

Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive.

I've always been fascinated with the concept of happiness, not in a pleasure-seeking kind of way, but because I believe our first responsibility in life is to be happy.

When we are happy, we are a blessing to everyone around us: we help, we give, we smile, we are at peace yet have the energy and patience to move mountains.

Happiness to me is openness to what is (as opposed to resistance, ouch!) yet connectedness to what could be (our dreams, visions, and goals). Happiness is also the joy we feel striving after our potential.

Lately I've started to train myself to notice in my body when my happiness goes down and to inquire within as to what I can shift externally or in my mindset to bring myself back to my highest happiness.

Sometimes it simply means taking a deep breath and let tension dissolve. Other times it means mustering up the courage to get up and go have a conversation with someone that's long overdue.

Sometimes it means turning on the music and dance, while other times it means turning off the music and be still.

Sometimes it means to stop resisting the chaos and noise all around me and simply flow with the incessant movement of life.

Sometimes it means shifting my attention away from myself and towards serving others, through a smile or helping someone with something I'm good at and they struggle with.

Sometimes it means to stop the intensity of my thoughts, drop into the awareness of my body and just feel everything there is to feel and notice. This simple practice helped me keep my sanity when working on my Ph.D. twenty-five years ago.

When I was writing my doctoral dissertation at Stanford University, my thesis director Michel Serres was a visiting professor whom I would see only twice a year for a couple of weeks before he would go back to France.

Each time I dropped him off at the airport, after he'd given me all the practical and motivational directions I would need to get through the next months, his last words would be, "Be happy."

Besides being my advisor and mentor, he was also a grandfatherly friend, but these last words always touched me and made me ponder: the most important thing he wanted me to remember was to be happy.

Michel was a wise man who had lived through two world wars, who had known hunger, poverty, cruelty and danger. Yet he knew that nothing in life, and I mean nothing, not even the pressure of completing your doctoral dissertation, was worth sacrificing your happiness for.

He taught me that each moment and each day is to be fully lived and enjoyed. Because when we choose to be happy by cultivating the mindset to be so, we become open vessels to receive higher intelligence and inspiration in a way we wouldn't if we let ourselves get bogged down with stress or negativity.

Once we know this, not only can we take care of ourselves, we can also apply this to our interactions with the world. Once we create the habit of cultivating a happy state of mind, we now have energy to spare and help others maintain or increase their happiness.

Even if you have to bring news or deliver a message you believe the receiver doesn't want to hear, you have the presence of mind to say it with a little more kindness and compassion, or point out a positive angle or solution to the situation.

One of the most surprising findings I ever read on the topic of happiness is in the book The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.

Shawn compiled a ton or research on the topic, and one of the studies he quotes is where researchers monitored people's state of happiness over the years and found that we all have a basic set point for happiness that we tend to revert to.

Even when dramatic things happen, lucky things such as winning the lottery, or unlucky things such as a debilitating disease or an accident where we incur a lifelong injury, after a brief period of adaptation, say a couple of months, most of us naturally return to that initial set point of happiness.

It reminds me of the case of W Mitchell, paraplegic who was sky-diving by being tied onto a friend. When someone asked him how he could be so adventurous and optimistic despite his disability, he said: "There used to be 10,000 things I could do. I just focus on the 9,000 things I still can do."

Wow, how happy you feel truly doesn't depend on your circumstances. We have tremendous power when it comes to determining our own happiness, and more power than we think when it comes to raising the happiness of others.

Knowing and applying this may actually be one of the most important keys for success in your business. People join your business because they think it will make them money, but they stay in and succeed because it also enriches them on many other levels.

Pray and work for health and prosperity, and the accomplishment of all your goals, but most importantly, remember to be happy in everything you do, for it truly is our primary responsibility, and the ultimate gift of life.