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.......We all want to be Happy

 

What is Happiness?

“I am happy when I receive a compliment“, “I am happy when I get a promotion or a pay raise”, “I am happy when my annual medical check-up says I am healthy”, “I am happy when I travel to exotic places”, “I am happy when my kids hug me”.

What do all of these happy moments have in common? They are transitory and they are “negative emotions” free.

We experience happiness when things go well (Thanks!). In other words, the experience of happiness is in the absence of negative emotions. 

However, life happens and often presents itself with challenge, crisis, loss, failure, abandonment and so much more. So, how can we get long lasting happiness? 

Happiness is a healthy mental state, it is not a final destination. It is not something we gain and have forever. We have to constantly work on it. We have to cultivate it.

Happiness is the wellness of the mind. Buddhists call this state sukha, “a state of profound and sustainable wellbeing when freed of negative emotions”.

So the key to long lasting happiness is not about making sure that everything goes well all the time. That would be impossible. Instead, it is about focusing on the present moment, be at peace with the present, and deal consciously and constantly with negative emotions. 

Our overall happiness is the combination of genes, habits and circumstances. Research studies show that our level of happiness is in part genetically determined (between 25% and 50%). It means that we have a “set point” we go back to after something positive or negative has happened to us. Some people are genetically predisposed to be happier than other. 

The good news is that we have the power to influence our happiness; between 75% and 50% of happiness is in our hands. We can impact our happiness by choosing what we think and how we behave. 

But how can we do that?

 

The Tool

We said that Happiness has to be cultivated. We need to do it daily. During my research I came across a valuable framework I want to share with you.

It is called S.T.A.G.E.(www.happify.com) and it has been designed to help you develop 5 key happiness skills.

Savor

Be mindful of everything good that happens to you at work and in life. Make the “good” last as long as possible. Take the time to take in the smile of a colleague, a meeting gone well, a good presentation, positive business results, a song playing on the radio, a walk, a coffee, remembering a past positive experience or anticipating one that still has to happen (Dr. F.Bryant, Loyola University, Chicago).

Thank

Appreciate what you have and appreciate others. Research shows that the practice of gratitude is directly related to our level of happiness (Dr. M. Seligman, R. Emmons, Ph.D.), and that it does not have to be a big thing. We will feel happier by just writing a thank you letter or keeping a gratitude journal. Associated benefit: when we feel happier, we improve our health and our sleep. 

Aspire

Aspiring is about feeding a sense of purpose, a higher goal. As we have said before, keep your “why” present and current. Purpose makes us feel hopeful and optimistic and these have been found to promote happiness and success.

Give

Be generous with your time, listen and share. Giving makes everybody happier: the receiver and the giver. Studies show that generosity is related to less stress, it nurtures the sense of community and friendship and makes us feel less lonely. In his research, Dr. Stephen Post (Case Western Reserve University) “shows that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly affected. Mortality is delayed. Depression is reduced. Well-being and good fortune are increased” (www.happify.com).

Emphatize

We have dedicated a whole post to Empathy and why it is important(see Part 4: The case of Emotional Intelligence – “Empathy”). Here, I would like to underline the connection between empathy and happiness. When we listen, care and understand others we pave the ground for creating stronger and more meaningful relationships. Relationships in return have been found to positively impact our happiness, our health and life expectations. Again, we all benefit from by being empathic.

 

Reflection

Now, reflect on yourself. How can you implement S.T.A.G.E. in your life and at work? What skills do you feel you need to focus on more? How are you going to bring more attention to that? When are you going to start?

 

Plan

Overwhelmed? Habits are difficult to change and new habits are difficult to stick. This is the way our brain works: ones we have learned something, the unlearning and re-learning takes time and effort. This is the reason why you have to start small (one habit at a time), be very consistent (frequency is key) and repeat the new “habit to be” over a long time.

1. Identify an area of development: for example, “give” more.

What does it mean to give for you? To whom would you like to give more? When and how often? 

2. Take a step by step approach. Start changing one habit at a time. Once you have mastered that, move to mastering a second one. 

Example: “I want to dedicate more time to my direct reports development. It will make me feel that I am a better boss and that I am doing a better job. In my calendar I will block one hour on Mondays to provide forward feedback and ad-hoc training”.

3. Repeat – repeat – repeat until it becomes an habit. 


“Judge nothing, you will be happy.

Forgive everything, you will be happier.

Love everything, you will be happiest”

Buddha.


Hope this post will inspire you to take the lead on your Happiness.

Laura


PS/ If you like books, a wonderful read is “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor.

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