Happiness in the News

The good news; happiness is starting to consistently make headlines.  The bad news; not everyone is happy.  More good news; there are a lot actions you can take to become happier.

 

Happiness at Work

From a recent New York Daily News article:

Workplace morale heads down: 70% of Americans negative about their jobs, Gallup study shows ‘Bosses from hell’ are giving U.S. workers the Monday blues. Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report had grim findings, including that 70% of those surveyed either hate work or are completely disengaged, and perks don’t help.

A Harvard Business Review blog offered some hope by explaining how to create a happier team.

“Happy, engaged employees are good for an organization. Research shows they are more creative, produce better results, and are willing to go the extra mile. What’s more, happiness is contagious; it creates a virtuous cycle that leads to further engagement. To bring more of that into your team, focus on what psychologists have identified as the three pathways to happiness: pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Consider whether you are actively encouraging these things in your people. Do they enjoy their relationships and their environment at work? Do they laugh? Do they fill roles that fit their skill sets and offer appropriate challenges? Do they feel they’re a part of something that matters? If the answer is no to any of these questions, brainstorm how you can adjust the team environment to bring more happiness in.”

Jonathan from Advance Life Skills gives us some insight into productivity and happiness.  It seems we all want to be more and more productive.  The problem is we don’t know when we are productive enough.  We interfere with our happy and relaxing times by trying to be more productive so we can have more happy and relaxing times.  This sends us into a downward spiral of unhappy productivity.   Being productive helps us feel accomplished and good about ourselves.  The challenge is we have to create balance.  We are being productive so we can have time to be happy.  To be happy we need to identify times to stop being overly focused on productivity and just be happy and in the moment.  Set your priorities and know when to step off the productivity merry-go-round and enjoy the moment, time with your family and friends, and all that you have accomplished.

 

 

Happiness from Giving

Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, authors of the recently released Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, offer some ideas based on their research of giving money away.  They offered participants either $5 or $20 and gave them one of two possible scenarios.  Spend the money on themselves before the end of the day or spend it on someone else.  They measured the participants’ happiness before and after they spent the money and found that the people who spent the money on someone else were much happier than those who spent it on themselves.  It didn’t matter whether they got $5 or $20 spending the money on someone else made them measurably happier.  Dunn and Norton and offer several tips for how to spend money and become happier including; Buy Experiences, Make it a Treat, Buy Time, Pay Now – Consumer Later, and Invest in others. You can read more here and here.

 

You can read more about the 7 Habits of Happiness or about Happiness in the Workplace.

How to get Happy – 4 Concepts connected to Leadership and Success

Over the years I have had the opportunity to study leadership and success.   I am struck by the connections between each area and how those connections are similar for happiness as well.

 

Your first test on happiness:

  1. Do you want to:
    1. Receive happiness like winning the lottery or receiving a gift?
    2. Experience happiness as a state of mind?

If you choose A, then you may be waiting for a while, possibly forever.  However, if you choose B, then we, the team at Pursuit-of-Happiness.org, have a lot to share that may be helpful.

 

Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, explained that happiness is created through our daily intentional activities.  This is consistent with Leadership and Success as well.   Happiness is within our ability to control with what we do in our daily lives and how we think.

 

Here are 4 concepts that will provide a framework for exploring happiness.

The first concept is understanding the difference between Pleasure and Happiness.   Are you chasing immediate pleasures like sex, decadent foods, couch time, and video time, or are you nurturing relationships, maintaining your health through diet and exercise,  finding ways to improve yourself, and being thankful for what is working in your life.  The pursuit of pleasure involves feeling good in the short-term at the possible risk of negative long-term outcomes; the pursuit of happiness consists of intentional activities and habits that promote long term health and well-being.

 

 

The second concept is taking control of your life.   George Bernard Shaw although a little gruff, was headed in the right direction when he explained pursuing happiness as, “…being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. “  Do you own your decisions and the consequences of those decisions?  Are you deciding every day to invest in the habits and activities that will lead to happiness or are you waiting and hoping that happiness will find you?

 

The third concept is cultivating close positive relationships.  Do you have a few close friends you can talk to and share tell about your failures and successes? People who know and appreciate the real you, the good and the bad?  Are you caring and sharing in the community? Is there a person, group, or cause that you care for and give to?  The acts of sharing our true selves with others and caring for others are the most important things we can do to generate happiness and contentment in our lives.

 

The fourth concept is finding and expressing purpose and meaning.  The full George Bernard Shaw quote is:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

 

Do you have something bigger than yourself to focus on?  Is there something bigger that you believe in or something that you know you were meant to do?  For many people this can be expressed in their religion or other spiritual pursuits.  Others may focus on their children or their meaningful contributions.

 

In summary, if you are choosing to pursue happiness:

  1. Understand the difference between Pleasure and Happiness
  2. Take control of your life and your happiness.
  3. Develop close positive relationships and care for others.
  4. Find and express purpose and meaning in your life.

 

As described above for happiness, leadership and success require a long term perspective, action and ownership, strong relationships, and a sense of purpose.

 

Also like Leadership and Success, happiness is not a possession that can be acquired.   It is a state of mind resulting from the cultivation of intentional daily habits.    It has to be pursued, explored, and experienced on an on-going basis.   Find out more about how to cultivate Happiness Habits at Pursuit-of-Happiness.org.