“Most people,” said Abraham Lincoln, “are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
I believe that. We have a choice to make when we get out of bed each day, don’t we? Are we going to make the best of what the day brings, or are we going to be, in my wife’s words, “a little piece of misery?”
Given the mounting evidence, I’m stunned more of us aren’t choosing the former. Happiness, in a word, works. Here’s proof:
Happiness at work: As author of Happiness at Work and CEO of iOpener, Jessica Pryce-Jones has found a correlation between happiness and the bottom line. Here’s how Forbes reporter Vicki Salemi described it:
(Pryce-Jones’s) findings proved that happiness has a distinct advantage over unhappiness. “The happiest employees are 180 percent more energized than their less content colleagues, 155 percent happier with their jobs, 150 percent happier with life, 108 percent more engaged and 50 percent more motivated. Most staggeringly, they are 50 percent more productive, too.”
The least happy workers reported spending 40 percent of their week doing what they’re there to do, compared with happy workers, who reported spending 80 percent of their week on work-related tasks. “This means they are putting in only two days a week of real (work), while their happiest colleagues are doing four.”
Game, set, match. In the office, happiness wins.
Happiness at home: “He who dies with the most toys wins,” declared an ’80s-era bumper sticker.
Garbage, writes Stephanie Rosenbloom of the New York Times. She found evidence that more and more people are getting rid of their toys — and are happier as a result. Here’s an excerpt:
Amid weak job and housing markets, consumers are saving more and spending less than they have in decades, and industry professionals expect that trend to continue. Consumers saved 6.4 percent of their after-tax income in June, according to a new government report. Before the recession, the rate was 1 to 2 percent for many years. In June, consumer spending and personal incomes were essentially flat compared with May, suggesting that the American economy, as dependent as it is on shoppers opening their wallets and purses, isn’t likely to rebound anytime soon.
On the bright side, the practices that consumers have adopted in response to the economic crisis ultimately could — as a raft of new research suggests — make them happier. New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses.
Score another point for financial literacy. It improves our bottom lines and makes us happier.
Happiness online: There’s been a lot of speculation about the impact social networking is having on our offline social lives. The question that often arises is, “Does social networking make us less social in person?”
The answer appears to be, “No.” Quite the opposite, in fact.
In a fascinating Fast Company article, author Adam Penenberg sought a correlation between social networking and the release of oxytocin, a hormone that many consider to be the “human stimulant of empathy, generosity, trust, and more.”
Using himself as a subject, Adam had blood samples taken before and after he posted a series of tweets to a handful of his followers on Twitter. The results were interesting, to say the least:
In those 10 minutes between blood batches one and two, my oxytocin levels spiked 13.2 percent. Meanwhile, stress hormones cortisol and ACTH went down 10.8 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively. (Claremont Graduate University professor Paul) Zak explains that the results are linked, that the release of oxytocin I experienced while tweeting reduced my stress hormones. If that’s the case, says Zak, social networking might reduce cardiovascular risks, like heart attack and stroke, associated with lack of social support. But there’s even more to our findings. “Your brain interpreted tweeting as if you were directly interacting with people you cared about or had empathy for,” Zak says. “E-connection is processed in the brain like an in-person connection.”
Other studies support this idea. One Australian experiment discovered that people with a sizable network of friends were less likely to pass away over a 10-year period than those with a small circle of friends — and that the distance separating friends made no difference. Another study showed that people with friends get sick less often than those without. Again, proximity didn’t affect the result.
Social networking, it appears, may be good for you, physically and emotionally.
Happiness at home, part 2: During a recent presentation, thought leader extraordinaire Curtis Zimmerman offered the following:
“I don’t care if you’re Employee of the Decade. If your kids hate you and your spouse won’t sleep with you, you lose.”
Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?
Take care of business, people. And guess what? Much of time, the really important business has nothing to do with business at all.
How are you staying happy these days?