Did you know that Sunday is officially “Happy Day”? In 2013, the United Nations proclaimed that March 20th would be observed annually as “International Day of Happiness” – a day to recognize the importance of happiness and well being.
Do we really need to have an official day to remind us to be happy? Well, we have Valentine’s Day to remind us to love our partner, Family Day to remind us of the importance of family, and Labour Day to remind us to show appreciation to our workers. So, why not a Happy Day – a special day to focus on just being happy?
Interestingly enough, there is actually science to happiness. We now know that our happiness is derived from three major sources:
The first is from our circumstances; and all those situations we encounter on a daily basis. For instance, if you won a lottery, you would be happy – for a while. If you were in a car accident, you would be unhappy − for awhile. But, within days, weeks, or months, you would be back to your typical level of happiness.
It has been determined that those daily circumstances only account for about 10% of our happiness. So when anyone says to you – “I would be happier if I had more money, or if I had a better job, or if my spouse would treat me better,” you can say back to them: “No you wouldn’t!”
Why? Because the second source of happiness is determined at birth. It is part of our DNA called our “eudaimonia” and accounts for 50%. It works like a happiness thermostat. If you start to become unhappy, it will trigger a response mechanism in your brain which creates serotonin and endorphins and brings you back up.
On the other hand, if for some reason (like winning millions of dollars) you become too happy, this same mechanism will also bring you back down. Studies show that many people who have won big lotteries are back to their original financial circumstance within a few years.
Weirdly enough, if we experience more happiness than our eudaimonia feels we deserve, we start to feel guilty and (subconsciously) put ourselves in situations where we will not be as happy.
But, here is the good news − the third source of happiness is totally within our control. It comes from our thinking, and determines 40% of our overall cheerfulness.
So how does that work? By simply reframing in our mind how we interpret each event or situation we encounter, to one that reflects a more positive outcome, we will experience a more rewarding and fulfilling life.
Some suggestions for improving your general happiness include:
- Truly believe that maintaining a positive outlook is a choice you can make.
- Express gratitude, especially when you first wake up. Identify at least one thing for which you are thankful.
- Make your bed. Studies show just doing that will improve your attitude and set the tone for your day.
- Assume positive intent. When someone cuts you off on the road, truly consider they may have a good reason, such as a family emergency.
- Hang out with positive people. Research shows that being around negative people will cause your brain to a create chemicals that depress you emotionally.
- Go to bed on time. People who are sleep deprived tend to be more irritable and react to external stimuli more negatively.
According to the United Nations, increasing our happiness should be viewed not as a right, but as a responsibility.
My question for managers this week: “What are you doing to increase your own eudaimonia and the happiness level in your workplace”?
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