The Happiness Advantage – What is Happiness?

The Happiness Advantage – What is Happiness?

VoiceNation Staff Development - The Happiness Advantage

VoiceNation Staff Development - The Happiness AdvantageWell, it’s “Happiness Month” here at VoiceNation! Last week we kicked off our month long celebration with our new Staff Development focus and a Super Bowl party. This is going to be a fun month of surprises, food, learning, and, well, happiness. As a “People Growth” company we strive to always be learning, growing, and stretching our employees. Even though the focus is on Happiness, this month is no different. We are walking through two books by Shawn Achor called, The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness.

With our kickoff session last Friday, we jumped into what happiness really is and what the benefits were in our personal and professional lives. Below are a few takeaways from our first lesson:

Success First, Happiness Second?

Society has led us down the path of believing that if we become successful, then we will be happy. It is the statement we have all heard a version of before: “If you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful then you will be happy.” Success first, Happiness second. But, if this were true then everyone would be automatically happy when they achieve whatever goal they are striving for – to lose weight, get a new car, get a raise, get a promotion. This is not the case. Why? As Shawn states in his book, “With each victory our goalposts of success keep getting pushed further and further back, and as a result, so does our happiness.” When we get what we want we always want something more or the next best thing.

Happiness is subjective to each individual person.

Scientists cannot even adequately define happiness because it is relative to each one of us personally. They have landed on happiness being “the experience of positive emotions”. It implies a positive mood in the present and a positive outlook for the future. But as you can see, this can be very different for each person. Aristotle described happiness as eudimonia, “human flourishing”​. This would mean that we are “happy” when we are actually consistently growing and operating in our strengths.

What is the Happiness Advantage?

This is a loaded question with a ton of info. But, basically, it is what results inside each of us when we flip the first statement we talked about around and make it be: “If you are happy, then you will work harder, and then you will become successful.” Happiness first, Success second. Shawn states in his book that waiting to be happy limits our brain’s potential and ability for success, by holding back the drive to enjoy where we are now while working on where we want to be or get what we want to get. Science has shown that when positive (happy) emotions flood our brains there is actually a biological reaction that occurs where dopamine and serotonin enter the brain and not only make us feel good but increase the learning and behavioral centers in our brains. This heightens our abilities to be more creative, learn more and faster, and handle stressful/painful situations more logically.

Personal and Work lives are better

Now that we know what it chemically does for us in our brains and really throughout our bodies, let’s take a look at the personal and professional advantages we can see from having a happy, more positive outlook on life. Studies have shown that having this type of mindset can help you in your daily life in many ways:

Less anxiety, better sleep, think clearer, have more fun, relax more, have more joy, learn quicker, better health/heal quicker, more energy, longer life, better marriages, better finances, more encouraging to others, etc.

The list of benefits can go on and on. So, if we have benefits in our personal lives, then there must be benefits for our professional lives as well, right? In a Psychological bulletin from 2005 titled “ Does Happiness Lead to Success?”, it states,

“Data shows that happy workers have higher levels of productivity, produce higher sales, perform better in leadership positions, receive higher performance ratings and pay, have more job security, and are less likely to quit or to become burned out.”

So the answer is yes. On the work side of things, we can see some of the same benefits as listed above and many more:

More creativity, less stress, higher results, less negativity, fewer sick days, greater work/life balance, better co-worker relationships, better customer service, higher salaries, more energy, greater focus, etc.

Sounds great, huh? Sign me up! But how do we get there? Studies have shown that consistent, small incremental changes in our daily lives enable us to change our mindsets and as a result, change our lifestyle and work. We will talk about how to “Retrain the Brain” in our next lesson.

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