Happiness in life and work is a complex combination. We focus on our professional lives as a way of acquiring wealth and security. That may be approaching happiness from the wrong direction. Lord Richard Layard, founder of Action for Happiness, says “we all want to be happy and we want the people we love to be happy. Happiness means feeling good about our lives and wanting to go on feeling that way. Unhappiness means feeling bad and wanting things to change.”
Professor Layard is Programme Director, Wellbeing in the Centre for Economic Performance at The London School of Economics. In his book, Happiness: Lessons From a New Science, he states “there is a paradox at the heart of our lives. Most people want more income. Yet as societies become richer, they do not become happier. This is not just anecdotally true, it is the story told by countless pieces of scientific research.”
On the Action for Happiness web site, there is a list of 20 Happiness Facts. Amongst them are these:
- Surveys in Britain and the U.S. show that people are no happier now than in the 1950s, despite massive economic growth.
- Trust is a major determinant of happiness in a society.
- Economic stability has a large effect on the happiness of society, while long-term economic growth has little. Unemployment reduces happiness by as much as bereavement.
- People’s happiness can be permanently altered. Surveys show that for many people long periods of unhappiness are followed by long periods of happiness.
- The most important external factors affecting individual happiness are human relationships. In every society, family or other close relationships are the most important, followed by relationships at work and the community.
- Doing good is one of the best ways to feel good. People who care more about others are happier than those who care less about others. When people do good, their brain becomes active in the same reward centre as where they experience other rewards.
- Studies have shown that giving money away tends to make people happier than spending it on themselves.
- Surveys of mental health in many countries show no improvement and in some cases worsening.
- People who take 8 sessions of mindfulness meditation training will on average be 20 percentage points happier one month later than a control group and have better responses in their immune system.
- Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know. Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%.
- Most people think that if they become successful, then they’ll be happy. But recent discoveries in psychology and neuroscience show that this formula is backward: happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we’re positive, our brains are more motivated, engaged, creative, energetic, resilient, and productive.
- Positive emotions – like joy, interest, pride and gratitude – don’t just feel good in the moment – they also affect our long term well-being. Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio to negative ones leads to a tipping point beyond which we naturally become more resilient to adversity and better able to achieve things.
Our partnerships with our corporate clients covers a spectrum of live events, from conferences and hospitality to team-building and rewards. The morale and motivation of the people at the heart of the organisation are vital concerns for all enterprise leaders. The more we understand the keys to happiness the better it is for business and society. Health and wellbeing are inextricably linked with happiness.
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