Happiness is good for your health – it’s official!

Increasing scientific evidence is suggesting that positivity can lead to a healthier and longer life.¹ However, is the word ‘Happiness’ something you associate with your work place?

The Dictionary definition of happiness is: the state of being happy, which will mean different things to different people. For some, happiness is one off bursts such as an amazing holiday, special night out or a child’s first words but it could be suggested that these are thrilling moments or experiences rather than a prolonged state of happiness.

The increase in materialism and the ‘must have’ culture that is so prevalent today is, to, some extent, driving a false ‘happiness’ notion. Social media continues to be a significant source of this with the ability to create the appearance of ‘living the dream’ when the reality can be very different. Money cannot buy health nor can it buy happiness. If you are comfortably off financially that aspect of your life will be easier but will not necessarily make you any happier. Many lottery winners will attest to this!

Now to the workplace and this happiness notion! A recent article by Annie McKee in Thrive Global² suggests that we need to be happy at work as well as in our personal life to achieve complete happiness. She suggests that there are 3 key aspects needed for happiness namely:

Purpose + Hope + Friendship = Happiness at Work

These three areas can be broken down into many things but for this blog the focus is on the following:

Purpose – the need to understand what your role entails and to be clear about how this aligns with organisational and cultural goals. If you feel unclear about this then seek clarification from your manager, by taking control of your role you may feel more empowered and enabled. Remember small changes can make a big difference.

Hope – put simply, ‘hope’ is the desire for something to happen, to make an impact or change. This can be translated into so many areas of our lives however can be slightly more challenging within the workplace setting. Therefore, be realistic about what you hope for, it can be easy to hope for something that is never going to happen so be pragmatic when you approach this. Perhaps identify 3 areas of Hope, 1 – short term, 2 – medium term and 3 – long term hope goals. By taking control of your role and having a purpose you will naturally feel more hopeful.

Friendship – we spend more time with colleagues than our family and new evidence is reporting that friendships are increasingly important to our health and happiness particularly the older we get ³. In the workplace you need to feel valued as a person not just for the job you do for the organisation. Having strong friendships within your workplace can provide invaluable support and sharing of work challenges and opportunities. If you feel would like to build a friendship network then look for like-minded people for example you could;  start a lunchtime walking group, craft group, book club – the list is endless. Taking time away from your desk and away from the day to day job allows you to engage with others in a social context.

There is something else I would like to add into this mix and that is Mindfulness.

 Mindfulness – The evidence supporting the effectiveness of Mindfulness is increasing significantly from both the personal and professional perspective. Some believe that there is a strong association between the science of happiness and mindfulness. An interesting article highlighting what scientists believe is the happiest man in the world, a 69 year old monk demonstrates this 4.   In short we need to look beyond ourselves to others and the wider world. Practicing mindfulness for 15 minutes a day can make a difference to our health, wellbeing and ultimately happiness.

In conclusion, the notion of happiness is not as elusive as we think. Look out with and beyond to find your own sense of happiness.  Have a great day.


References and Useful Resources

1.The Happiness Health Connection https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-happiness-health-connection

2.The 3 things you need to be happy at work. https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/12749-the-3-things-you-need-to-be-happy-at-work

3.Associations among relational values, support, health, and well-being across the adult lifespan. 2017. W.J. Chopik. Personal Relationships Journal. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pere.12187/abstract

4.A 69 year old monk who scientists call the world’s happiest man. http://bayart.org/a-69-year-old-monk-who-scientists-call-the-worlds-happiest-man-says-the-secret-to-being-happy-takes-just-15-minutes-per-day/#%2EWbBXu01-_ro%2Elinkedin