C’mon, Get Happy [1]

2012 by Garza

Happiness is getting a lot of attention these days, and in improbable places. Harvard Business Review’s most recent cover story is on “The Value of Happiness – How Employee Well-Being Drives Profits.” If you’re interested in learning more about what happiness is, where you can find it, and how attention to employee well-being can improve performance, get a hold of the January – February 2012 issue.

An interesting aspect of happiness[2] that has emerged from the research is the importance of being intentional about your own happiness – to design and take actions that will lead to positive experiences. Sure, positive experiences that are beyond your control (like a victory over Duke, if you’re a UNC fan) can produce happiness, temporary though it may be. The problem is that we can’t depend on events breaking our way frequently enough to sustain our happiness. We need a steady stream of positive experiences. And it’s up to us to make them happen.

The good news is that it’s not that hard. The things we can do to create positive experiences that will lead to long-term happiness are in our control. Taking care of yourself and getting plenty of exercise can be important. (Hey, there is a reason they are clichés.) Even more effective is changing the slide under your microscope. Instead of examining what’s going on inside you, start focusing on the people around you. Offer your help to a co-worker who is under siege. Extend an olive branch to a colleague with whom you are in conflict. Reach out to the person who usually stands in the corner or on the sidelines. Volunteer your time. Do these things repeatedly. Make them top of mind, everyday. Over time, they will become your default way of acting, and you’ll notice the difference.

[1] With apologies to the creators of The Partridge Family theme song, and not to be confused with Sinatra’s 1954 classic, Get Happy.

[2] As distinguished from the broader concept of “well-being,” of which happiness is just one element.

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