Happiness at work. Is that truly possible, pragmatic, or feasible? We’ve all heard our father’s sage advice, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a single day”. Is that the same as being happy at work? (Hmmmm) The latest research sheds some light on these questions with something called “positive psychology”. More and more research is pouring out of prestigious schools, (shall we mention Harvard?), and the likes of Daniel Gilbert from whom springs, Stumbling on Happiness, or from Sonja Lyubomirsky who showers upon us The How of Happiness. There are entire training courses, some of them for free, bubbling up online and elsewhere every day, and everywhere. And yes, Oprah is getting in on the act as well.
Recently, the Happiness Advantage (by Shawn Anchor) was given to me by a former college and trusted friend. (a “must read”, says she) Then, a long-time customer of Facilitator Express requested further information and expressed great passion about her own goals and ambition to dive into the deep end of this new training. Many of you may likewise, have had the experience of this new wave as it keeps washing up on the shores of workplace conversation. Since then, the Huffington Post has written numerous articles on the science of happiness. No? You haven’t heard? Then it is strongly recommended that you add the newsletter from Academia.edu to your list of educational feeds, and cease to be left out of this scientific surge, on how the brain works. (or stay tuned!) Most especially if you are in the training and development world, do you not want to be left out of the “the know” of happiness psychology. Says Shawn Anchor, “If a study has proven how CEO’s can become 15 percent more productive, or how managers can improve customer satisfaction by 42 percent, then I think the people in the trenches ought to know about it…” In his book, The Happiness Advantage, he goes on to explain how people can use the principles of positive psychology to gain a competitive edge in their career and in the workplace. Zappo's has got to be one of the foremost leaders in modeling the happiness culture. One other thing you do NOT want to do: Do not confuse the term "positive psychology" with the term “positive thinking”. Positive Psychology is so much more.
The Happiness Advantage book introduces the 7 Principles of Happiness:
· The Happiness Advantage – teaches how to retrain the brain to capitalize on positivity and improve productivity and performance.
- ·The Fulcrum and the Lever – This principle teaches how we can adjust our mindset (our fulcrum) in a way that gives us the power (the lever) to be more fulfilled and successful.
- ·The Tetris Effect – teaches us how to retrain our brain to spot patterns of possibility, so we can see, and seize, the opportunity wherever it might appear.
- · Falling Up – This principle is about finding the mental path that not only leads us up and out of failure or suffering, but teaches us to be happier and more successful because of it.
- ·The Zorro Circle – teaches us how to regain control of hijacked emotions by focusing first on small, manageable goals, and then to gradually expand those goals (as in an ever-widening circles) to achieve bigger and better.
- ·The 20 Second Rule – This principle shows how, by making small energy adjustments, we can reroute the path of least resistance (aka, falling back on old habits) and replace bad habits with good ones
- · Social Investment – Perhaps one of the hardest, last and certainly not least of the 7 principles, is to learn to truly invest (as in fervently) in friends, in peers, and in family members, while in the midst of challenges and stress. Not the first reaction for many – but our brain can be trained for this work of excellence.
Still a skeptic? So was I, although “Positivity” was one of my greater strengths in the Strengths Finder. It all comes down to what we hear when the term “Happiness Psychology” is used. Again, Shawn Anchor says it best when referring to the 7 Principles of Happiness: “Here is what they will not do. They will not tell you to paint on a happy face, use “positive thinking” to wish away your problems, or worse, to pretend your problems don’t exist. The Happiness Advantage comes from a different place. It asks us to be realistic about the present while maximizing our potential for the future. It is about learning how to cultivate the mindset and behaviors that have been empirically proven to fuel greater success and fulfillment. It is a work ethic.”
Next Up: The Happiness Advantage and the Mistake We Make. (Hint: it’s related to that 7th Principle – Social Investment).