The Pursuit Of Happiness

The Pursuit Of Happiness


There’s plenty of research today describing how exercise, a healthy diet and getting enough sleep is beneficial to health and wellbeing. Also that healthy staff who feel good do their job better.

But here’s something new: Improving health, wellness and a sense of fulfilment – and consequently the ability to work well – can be achieved through no exercise or diet at all but simply by addressing two human behaviours: Gratitude and acts of kindness.

There are marked business benefits to improving happiness in your business: Happy and fulfilled staff have higher levels of positive alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, energy, motivation, better inter-personal interactions, increased loyalty, less sick days, less reaction time to negative emotions and greater resilience to tough times.

Sound like something you want in your business? Read on to find out how to get it, starting today.

Mindset in the pursuit of happiness

You may have heard the saying, “Change your story, change your perception, change your life,” but it’s easy to get caught up in stories that take on a life of their own, and that’s when frustration and dissatisfaction build.

It’s when you can’t help being annoyed by a co-worker’s habit until it’s all you see, it’s being too involved in your own life and problems to notice others’, it’s wishing you could be successful like your competitor who appears to have it all.

The trick to turning around this kind of mindset is to change perspective. So whether you’re a business owner, a team manager, or an employee, taking stock of what you have in your life that you’re grateful for, as well as helping others, is scientifically proven to improve happiness.

Here are the results from some of the most definitive gratitude studies that you can start practising with immediate effect.

Related: The Ultimate Sleep Guide

Writing gratitude letters

How it works: Participants took a standardised happiness test. They then wrote a letter to someone special or who did something kind that they weren’t properly thanked for. Participants were then asked to call their subject and read out what they wrote, or deliver the letter within one week. They then re-took a standardised happiness test.

The results:  The effects of the test weren’t just immediate but had lasting effects of up to six months. Take a look at the jump in perceived happiness for those who expressed their gratitude.

Bring it to work: Bring gratitude into the workplace by getting staff to write short gratitude letters to co-workers. Ask them to write a few points about how their colleague positively influences them and what they like about them. These can start anonymously.

Three good things in life

How it works: Level of happiness is directly linked to the level of gratitude you express in your daily life. In ‘three good things’ experiments, participants are asked every night for a week to write down three things that went well each day as well as the causes for each thing.

The results: The impact on happiness is again clear. Though the lag time is greater than in gratitude letters, the effect is lasting because of a shift in attitude compared to the control group that listed three random events in the day.

 Bring it to work: Encourage staff to start a ‘three good things’ journal for a week based on interactions at work. When staff begin to associate their actions with positive outcomes, they become motivated to repeat their behaviour.

Related: The Power of Mornings

Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.