The gurus say you can discover the secret to skyrocketing productivity and workplace success with a simple yet powerful ingredient: happiness. But in the real world, is the drive for happiness helping or hindering the Kiwi business machine?
Stop what you’re doing. Take a full minute to really consider what I’m about to ask you: Are you truly happy?
I’m not talking about the kind of ‘can’t complain I suppose’ contentment that my British compatriots would consider as practically orgasmic. I’m talking about true, deep, quiet, joy.
Chances are, you would say “no”.
I don’t blame you. I would have said the same thing.
After all, we don’t go into business in pursuit of happiness. We embark on an heroic quest for business success. Once we achieve success, then we will be happy.
Or so I thought.
But what if we’ve got the business of happiness totally wrong? What if happiness is not the outcome we seek, but the key to unlocking success beyond our wildest expectations?
Falling off a cliff
For centuries, happiness and the workplace were like an unhappily married couple: They managed to coexist, but everything would be a lot smoother if they could just lead separate lives.
Work was not a ‘happy’ place. Employees were not supposed to find happiness in their roles. They turned up, did the job, got paid and went home.
But a couple of decades ago, there was a shift in the practice of positive psychology and workplace wellbeing.
Traditionally, the ‘ambulance’ for stressed and unhappy workers was at the bottom of the metaphorical cliff: People only got help when they hit rock bottom.
Then, things changed. Smart leaders started putting support structures – the ‘ambulance’ – at the top of the cliff: Workers got the support they needed to keep them happy and performing at the top of their game, so the sharp performance drop never arrived.
Happiness was becoming a workplace science.
The pursuit of happiness was becoming a realisation.
Happiness … guaranteed?
You don’t have to guarantee happiness, you just have to make its achievement a possibility.
Happiness is not something you pursue. It’s not something you need to hunt down. It’s right in front of you.
Happiness doesn’t come from luck, your network, your expertise or talents. It certainly doesn’t come from your circumstances.
It doesn’t come from a promotion, a new client, a sales win, a pay rise or your LinkedIn post going viral.
Happiness is created by the simple things you do every day.
All the small things
People are usually miserably busy and looking for a breakthrough – the silver bullet in their life or business that will make the happiness bell ring. But if you truly want to discover the joy in what you do, the secret lies in the power of small, consistent actions that compound over time.
These may include:
- Practising gratitude: Taking a few minutes each day to reflect on and express gratitude for the positive aspects of your life. Recognising what you are grateful for, fostering a sense of appreciation and shifting your focus to the positive aspects of your role helps you embed the sense of satisfaction.
- Moments that matter: Identifying and incorporating moments of mindfulness into your day. Be fully present in the moment and observe the world around you. This simple practice cultivates a sense of calm and clarity amidst the chaos.
- Acts of kindness: Engage in small acts of kindness towards colleagues, customers, and clients. Yes, that actually means doing something nice … for free. These gestures create a positive ripple effect, boosting both your happiness and the recipient’s.
- Learn (or teach) something new: Cultivate a growth mindset by learning or teaching something new every day. It is the process of developing mastery for ourselves, or cultivating mastery in others that allows us to feel part of something bigger than ourselves.
- Celebrate wins: Acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of yourself and your team, no matter how small. Recognise your progress and give yourself credit for the steps taken towards your goals. This fosters a positive mindset and boosts motivation.
But this is only half the story, happiness is achieved by the things you don’t do every day.
If small daily actions can create happiness, the opposite is also true. As Newton’s third law states: Every force has an equal and opposing force.
There are a number of daily habits you’re cultivating that can be destroying your chances of happiness:
Dwelling on negativity: Constantly focusing on negative thoughts, dwelling on past failures, or engaging in self-criticism can diminish happiness over time.
Comparison and envy: Constantly comparing oneself to others, feeling envious of their achievements, or focusing on what one lacks rather than appreciating what they have can lead to unhappiness.
Living in the past or future: Constantly dwelling on past regrets or worrying excessively about the future can rob one of the joy and contentment found in the present moment.
Holding onto resentment and grudges: Harbouring resentment, holding grudges, or refusing to forgive others can create a negative emotional burden that hinders happiness.
You choose you
In the end, the business of happiness is not a solitary endeavour but a shared mission.
Together, you and your team can uplift, support, and empower one another on this transformative path.
Choose happiness. Live it. Share it.
Remember, it’s not something you pursue. It’s something you can create. Immediately.