Studies show that people who are happy in their work and their lives are more productive and successful. But even if that weren’t true, it’s better to be happy. After all, who wants to be sad?
So let’s take a side-trip from our straight ahead exploration of productivity and success to examine how we can strengthen the important elements of the happiness triad.
Have A Positive Impact
A foundational way to boost your happiness in your work and your life is to feel that you are making a positive difference in some effort you feel is important.
It almost doesn’t matter what it is: a new product or service, a group or organization you believe in, a problem you’re helping to avoid or to solve, an opportunity you’re creating or improving, an activity or ability you’re cultivating, or whatever.
If you’re not already striving toward something larger than yourself, something you feel is Important with a capital “I,” you’ll gain some immediate benefit from latching onto one that resonates with you.
You’ll also feel happier later on, when you can look back and see some improvement in which you’ve had a hand, and when you notice that the world is a little better because of it.
Have a Positive Vision
Another element that supports your happiness is a sense of positive movement toward something to which you aspire. This could be a task, project, or goal you want to accomplish, a set of skills you want to enhance, a lifestyle or career position you want to attain, or any other vision for your future that motivates you.
It’s wonderful if the organization you work for offers a positive vision you can buy into. But it’s even more important that you pursue your own personal vision for your individual future. If you don’t already have one, take the time now to develop a vision you can believe in.
A positive vision for your future gives you ample reason to get out of bed in the morning, to work hard when you’re not in the mood, to overcome obstacles and discouragements, to inspire others to join you in your efforts, and to appreciate the progress you’ve already made.
Having a positive vision elevates almost everything you do out of the realm of routines and drudgery. It helps you take pleasure in even the smallest, least interesting activities that inevitably come your way – provided they support your vision and lead you closer to it.
Have A Positive Posse
How many times have you heard that humans are social animals. Well, it’s true, which is why having a positive group of people you communicate and spend time with is a foundational element in building and maintaining a healthy level of personal happiness.
This idea has several implications for how you run your work and your life, going forward:
- Cultivate and spend time with people you like and trust, and who feel the same about you.
- Favor people who are upbeat, optimistic, enthusiastic, and well-intentioned.
- Reduce your involvement with people who bring you down: pessimists, narcissists, and manipulators; people who habitually make bad choices; people who are jealous of others – particularly of you.
- Open yourself to meeting new people, and experiencing them in all their complexity and wonder. Insofar as you are able, add the good ones to your posse.
Finding and maintaining a suitable “tribe” or group in which you feel you belong boosts your happiness by providing a social setting in which you can be yourself, with all your warts and flaws. It increases your self-esteem, gives you a source of support when you need it, and allows you to gain the benefit of supporting others. It also creates the ability to tackle larger tasks as well as benefit from a wider range of skills, knowledge, and experience.
All three of these elements – drive toward a goal, expectation of success, and mutually supportive relationships – cultivate and sustain the flame of innate happiness that burns within each of us. They lead to greater productivity and success, yes, but also to larger opportunities to feel real meaning in your work and your life, and smaller likelihoods you’ll eventually burn out and yearn to make major changes.
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