Happiness As A Choice, Not As A Result of Circumstances

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Posted by Jaime Leben

March 12, 2014

happy_womanBy now I’m sure you’ve heard the infectious foot tapping (and spoofed) beats of Pharrell’s “Happy”Even after listening to it countless times, I have decided it’s not humanly possible not to crack a smile.

What really hit home was the idea that happiness is an active choice. You have to want to be happy. You have to look for the opportunities to be happy, no matter the situation or circumstance. That’s the tough part though, isn’t it? I mean, it’s easy to be happy when you’re laying on the beach in the Caribbean. It’s a little more difficult to be happy, or at least feel that way, when a critical deadline is looming and you’re stumped for ideas, or your customer is less than pleased with the work you and your team have been providing. Having been in both of those situations at least once over the last few months, I can attest that happy would not have been the first word I would have used to describe my feelings on the situation.

So, when you find yourself in circumstances that do not lend themselves to feeling happy, what do you do? You make a choice to change the perspective. A quick Google search will turn up multiple results regarding being happy at work.

I enjoyed 6 ways to be Happier at Work and the Top 10 Ways to Be Happy at Work.

These articles note such ideas as not letting resentments simmer, remembering to appreciate others, avoiding negativity, and asking for feedback on a regular basis. Those familiar with The Oz Principle will especially appreciate the last item within that list.

During my search I also came upon a Ted Talk from 2011 presented by Shawn Achor, a psychologist and “winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard”, entitled The Happy Secret to Better Work. You should definitely take a quick break to watch the entire speech, it’s only about 12 minutes, but I wanted to share with you some metrics and thoughts around the science of happiness.

“Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You're 37 percent better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed which means we can reverse the formula. If we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully as we're able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.”

Given all of the professional, personal, and physical benefits to being happy, why wouldn’t you want to make the choice to feel like a room without a roof?



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