Published on February 16th, 2015 | by Nancy F. Clark0
Do You Know How To Mix Happiness And Business?
By Nancy F. Clark—
Also shared with Forbes—
If you’ve suspected that happy people get better work evaluations and higher pay, then you’re right. A 15-year study in Australia showed this is true. Happiness has wide ranging effects. According to Professor Martin Seligman (author of Authentic Happiness), “…it turns out that adults and children who are put into a good mood select higher goals, perform better, and persist longer on a variety of laboratory tasks, such as solving anagrams.” Ah, that means happiness improves motivation as well. More Good News.
You may have received Unhappy Genes and suffered Unfortunate Life Circumstances, but you still get a clean 40% at your command.
Recent scientific reports show your happiness level is something that can be increased with a minimum amount of effort. Don’t you want to be happier? Don’t you think others like to be around happy people? Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California (author of The How of Happiness) has conducted happiness research with thousands of men and women. The Good News is that a full 40% of your happiness level is completely within your control. You may have received Unhappy Genes and suffered Unfortunate Life Circumstances, but you still get a clean 40% at your command. And the tasks you can do are surprisingly easy.
Before I talk about these tasks, let’s get the happiness myths out of the way.
The 3 Big Happiness Myths
Myth #1: Happiness is something that you find, like Shangri-la. This is not true, so don’t wait around for this magical occurrence.
Myth #2: Our circumstances determine our happiness. This is not true, so don’t think, “IF only this would happen, THEN I’d be happy.” I think this is a trap everyone falls into at some time.
Myth #3: You either have it or you don’t. Not true either. I’ve already told you that you’ve got 40% to develop. You can make improvements.
Let’s get to the 12 tasks that Professor Lyubomirsky says will help you. She has an instant aversion to overly sweet sounding ideas, as I do. But, when she pushed herself to write gratitude letters to colleagues, she was surprised with the positive effect on others and on herself. So give yourself a little push. These are simple tasks. You don’t need to try all 12 of them. You could start out by selecting 4 that sound most appealing to you. Later, you can get around to other 8 and astound yourself with the results. Let me know about these astounding results. While you’re at it, get a copy of The How of Happiness and take its personal inventory and recommendations.
12 Simple Tasks Designed To Increase Your Happiness
Express gratitude — You can tell others or you can write down 5 every evening for a week.
Cultivate optimism — Keep a journal of Your Best Possible Future. I’ll talk more about this in my Tip of the Week.
Avoid overthinking and social comparison — Cut down on how often you rethink your problems and compare yourself to others. Cut down on thoughts, such as, “I wish I wouldn’t have said that! I should have said …”
Practice acts of kindness — This is one of those overly sweet sounding ideas that I’m surprised I’ve become addicted to doing at least once a day. And scientists now have proof that “pay it forward” is something that usually happens. It’s saccharine, but true. I agree with Robert Wright (author of Non-Zero, another book you should get) that altruism is built into our genes. It’s helped our survival. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.” Nah, I can’t get that sweet.
Nurture relationships — Spend time and energy in cultivating and enjoying a relationship, or healing an ailing relationship.
Develop strategies for coping — Practice ways to handle or get over stress, hardship, or trauma.
Learn to forgive — Write a letter in which you try to let go of anger or resentment of someone. It is necessary to write it, but not necessary to mail it.
Do more activities that truly engage you — I call these “flow activities” that you find challenging and absorbing. You know you’re in flow when you lose track of time. If you’re interested in this topic, you absolutely have to read the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Savor life’s joys — Pay close attention and replay life’s momentary pleasures and wonders, through thinking, writing, drawing, or sharing with another.
Commit to your goals — Pick one, or several of your goals and devote time and effort to pursuing them.
Practice religion and spirituality — Devote thought and energy to whichever form is comfortable for you.
Take care of your body — Engage in physical activity, meditating, smiling, and laughing.
So, pick your Top 4 and devote attention to them. Later, pick up the other 8 and see how high you can raise your Happiness Level. Who could object to that?
My Business Happiness Homework deals with Task #2 Cultivating Optimism.
Here it is.
This will not take much of your time. It will take 20 minutes tonight and 20 minutes for each of the next 3 nights. Research at two universities (by Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, and by Professor Laura King) has shown this small investment of time can make a significant difference in your life.
Select a blank notebook and begin writing a journal of Your Best Possible Future.
Be sure to cover each area of your life—I mean, your future life. Picture yourself in the future, after everything has gone as well as it could. You’ve worked hard and accomplished your life goals. For instance, Julie Anne could say, “I can imagine myself married with 2 children, working in the Internet field, spending summer vacations in Montana with my family, meditating and exercising on a regular schedule, planning social outings, organizing art exhibitions, and performing the saxophone with The Big Sky Cowgirls.”
Remember, scientists have shown us we can increase our happiness, optimism, and our motivation. Spending 4 nights on this exercise will make a difference, and devoting another night, maybe once a month, will improve it even more. How much of an improvement in Your Best Possible Future do you want to see? Make it happen. It’s within your control!
Nancy F Clark is CEO Positivity Daily and partners with Forbes online. Follow her on Twitter.