10 Strategies Science Tells Us Make Us Happy

I’ve been reading some of the books in the canon of Positive Psychology lately to find out what science has to say about what we can do to get happy:

 The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

 What You Can Change . . . and What You Can’t*: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement  by Martin Seligman

and Finding Flow  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
The main themes point to the gap between what we as a society, and as businesspeople, have generally valued in the past 20 years, and what actually makes humans happy. The things that make us happy over time do not include more money, smaller waistlines or bigger houses. The values we have put on competition, climbing the corporate ladder and conspicuous consumption in business are, at least from a happiness perspective, unsupportable.  While those things may give us a temporary boost, we will always return to our set point again, to the same level of happiness we had before. And asking people to multitask, to pursue goals either far above or below their skillset, and to be “individual achievers” will limit their opportunities to get great results.  And that will affect the bottom line.  

So how can we be happier and get great results, too?

Scientists have found that there are specific activities that can reliably increase our happiness and sense of wellbeing including:

  • Avoiding comparisons to others
  • Taking initiative at work
  • Putting money low on the list
  • Smiling even when we don’t feel like it

Additionally, in a business context, the following are important:

  • Sharing tasks with others and asking for help
  • The chance to match skills to challenges
  • Having time to immerse oneself in an activity without distraction

I found The How of Happiness to be particularly useful, since it includes many activites for each of 10 strategies, and recognizes that each person will benefit from a different set of activities.
For a great 11X17 poster of the 10 Happiness strategies to hang on the office wall, go to Yes Magazine

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