by Goele Vanhelmont of Obelisk

“But there is a crack in everything,
because this is the realm of the crack,
the realm of failure,
the realm of death, and unless we affirm failure and death,
we’re going to be very unhappy.”

Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen, 1993

As a partner involved in the Erasmus+ project Happiness@work and my own rollercoaster of emotions that I have felt in recent months and at work, I started to question our own project: Should we adjust our expectations in this project? How should we strive for happiness at work when jobs are at risk, when work-life balance is a struggle in itself and when people’s resilience is put to the test?

Reading the book “The art of being unhappy” by Dirk De Wachter (2019) has brought clarification and a sense of relief for myself and also hope for bringing this project to a successful outcome.

  • According to Dirk De Wachter, the art of life is accepting that difficulties and shortcomings belong to life and sharing them with others. If you do that, sadness, big and small, will become more bearable (p.26). At unfortunate moments we need each other. When the other is there, it is unforgettable. That is why sadness and happiness, no matter how hard and difficult to discuss, are still valuable. They give a cause for closeness, and closeness works to make us happier (p.29).
  • Striving for happiness as the goal of life is a mistake. Striving for purpose and meaning, on the other hand, is what life is all about. Trying to take care of others, in the broad sense of the word, gives a satisfied and happy feeling. It is a feeling of happiness of an essential kind. Being attentive to someone else’s misfortune is not completely altruistic. It also makes you feel better.

My conclusion is therefore: The Happiness@work project is more relevant than ever. After all, we are not striving for the superficial-how-goes-it-happiness.

The R in the PERMA model is about Relationships. A working environment where there is sincere and authentic connection is a working environment where there is confidence to also share and discuss uncertainties and difficulties.

And if, among other things, this is part of the pursuit of our project, Happiness@work. Then, more than ever, I am eager and motivated to put my shoulders to this project.