You may think of the International Day of Happiness as a day on which you must be happy. And you may feel the pressure to get happy. Let’s be honest, it’s pretty difficult to just will yourself to be happy. So let’s take another approach.
International Day of Happiness was founded by philanthropist and United Nations (UN) special advisor Jayme Illien. Ban Ki-moon backed the idea and established 20th March as International Day of Happiness from 2013. His intention was that happiness should be understood as a serious matter and a true measure of human progress.
So, if you’re overwhelmed about what you should be feeling on this Happiness Day then perhaps an easier command than “Be happy!” is “Understand happiness!” That is, take time today to understand why the UN is saying that more emphasis should be placed on making sustainable happiness a greater priority to nations, organizations, communities, families and individuals.
The global campaign for Happiness Day is led by Action for Happiness (AfH)and its theme for 2019 is “Happier Together”, focusing on what we have in common, rather than what divides us. AfH’s patron, The Dalai Lama, encourages the vision of a happier world in which fewer people suffer from mental health problems and more people feel good, function well and help others.
At iOpener, we continue our work in organizations and business schools across the world. And every leadership program we deliver is underpinned by the Science of Happiness at WorkTM, developed by iOpener’s founder Jess Pryce-Jones. I, for one, feel less eccentric these days when I tell people that I specialize in Happiness at Work. Now, with an acceptance of happiness as an aspect of mainstream personal and organizational development, people are more inclined to ask me questions and to show curiosity about the essence of happiness.
But people are still confused about happiness. They feel troubled when they don’t feel happy. And wonder how come everyone’s barking on about happiness as if it’s easily attained.
It all comes down to understanding the different types of happiness.
National happiness and Happiness at Work
A nation achieves happiness via things like enjoying freedom of expression, experiencing democracy and ensuring a safe environment to live in. The economics of happiness is about social progress; measured by a population’s sense of subjective well-being, not just their wealth. Once a nation is living above the poverty line (defined by the UN as $2 a day), incremental increases in income don’t work so hard to increase happiness.
Organizational leaders are encouraged to create environments in which their employees experience Happiness at Work. This is a steady type of happiness; a ‘mindset happiness’, that adeptly navigates the inevitable ups and downs of work. To achieve mindset happiness, we encourage individuals to discover what needs to change for the better and then to take action to maximize their performance and to achieve their potential.
Chade-Meng Tan, Google’s employee number 107 and former ‘Jolly Good Fellow’ (aka Chief Happiness Officer), explains that happiness is your default mode when you feel at peace with yourself. Sometimes, you may deviate away from your ‘factory setting’. Then your task is to find your way back. Findings from Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky’s lab and other research studies suggest that 50% of your individual happiness is genetically pre-determined. Only 10% is attributable to your life’s circumstances. With voluntary choice, you can proactively leverage this remaining 40% to increase your happiness.
We are not talking about emotional happiness; that short-lived spike of positive emotion that makes our heart flutter, jump for joy or explode with laughter. Those are great moments and they are important. Adjusting your expectations of happiness to reach a calmer kind of happiness that’s sustainable will feel more doable.
But, here’s the thing. Just like no-one else can make you engaged at work, or motivated to go on a run tonight, nobody else can make you happy either. You have personal responsibility for your own happiness; in life and at work.
Here’s a head-start for you: Ban Ki-moon’s message in 2015 …
“The pursuit of happiness is serious business. Happiness for the entire human family is one of the main goals of the United Nations.
Peace, prosperity, lives of dignity for all – this is what we seek.”
Instead of “Be happy!” today try “Understand happiness!”.
And, if you’d like to know more about the Science of Happiness at WorkTM and what it can do for your organization, please get in touch on +44 (0)1865 511522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help develop brilliant leaders and thriving communities of employees who deliver amazing results.