Investing time and resources in people’s happiness at work intuitively sounds like a useful investment, and many would agree it will benefit the organization. But why exactly is happiness such a good investment?
Let’s start by taking a closer look at some widespread assumptions about happiness. When talking about happiness, many people frame it as a consequence of success and accomplishments. Think about it for a second. Have you ever thought something like: “When I get good grades, I will be happy.” or “Once I get this promotion, I will feel great.”.
Of course good grades and promotions will indeed make you feel good for a while, but, as author and happiness expert Shawn Achor argues: “Success is a moving target andthehappiness that results from success is fleeting”.
Instead, Achor suggests there is a ‘happiness advantage’. Supported by research, he claims that happiness, measured by indicators such as a positive mind-set and life satisfaction, actually promotes successful business outcomes. Happiness could enhance creativity, productivity and engagement, and lead to less turnover, more resilience and greater sales (Lyobumirksy, King, & Diener, 2005). In Achor’s words: “Every business outcome shows improvement when the brain is positive.”. By introducing happiness as a precursor of success, he reverses the commonly assumed ‘happiness formula’.
And, most importantly, he doesn’t stop there. Achor proposes three simple ways in which a positive mind-set, a well-known indicator of happiness, can be trained.
Develop new habits that help you stay positive
Some easy activities were shown to improve long-term optimism and life-satisfaction after engaging in them on a daily basis, for at least three weeks:
- Writing down three things you are grateful for;
- Exercising for 10 minutes;
- Meditating for two minutes at your desk;
- Sending a positive message to a friend or co-worker.
Help your coworkers
Achor’s research has shown that not only receiving but also providing social support is correlated with happiness and engagement. So helping others and initiating social interactions among colleagues is not only beneficial for their happiness, but also for your own.
Change your relationship with stress
Ever had the feeling of being stressed out and stressing out about being stressed out?
When thinking about stress, people often focus on its negative effects. Nevertheless, it is important to admit there are some better aspects to it as well. Stress can for example fuel growth and improvement and enhance performance. By focusing on its more positive effects, negative health outcomes caused by stress can be reduced and happiness at work improved.
Although staying optimistic and keeping a positive mind-set can be a challenge, especially during stressful times like these, small steps can help you reach bigger goals. As Achor proves, you don’t have to wait for your next big success to become happy. On the contrary, start taking some small steps towards a positive mind-set, and happiness and success will follow along the way.
Lyubomirsky, Sonja, King, Laura, & Diener, Ed. (2005). The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect. Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803-855.