What perfect timing it is for me to write this blog entry on happiness. I just came back tonight from an event for women alumni sponsored by the university I attended for both my undergraduate and graduate degree – the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota – and met one of the author’s of the newly-released book What Happy Women Do: A Salute to Sisterhood and the Rituals That Sustain Us. Dr. Carol Bruess is a wonderful example of a “happy woman” as she has found joy in sharing her work.
I’m always attracted to books on happiness because just like the great philosopher Aristotle said that happiness is the goal of all goals. “To be happy” is often the answer you’ll hear to the questions asked about what’s most important to you or what do you want most from life. So what does it mean to be truly happy? And how can we bring happiness to our work?
I’ve read a lot about this subject and have presented on it as well. A couple of my favorite resources I’ll share with you, like the society of happy people. A scientific perspective on happiness that really resonates with me and many other happiness experts out there is the work of Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want.
Her scientific research demonstrates that we all have a happiness set point and the ability to determine about 40% of our happiness. According to Lyubomirsky, 50% of our happiness is determined from our genetic make up, 10% from our circumstances and then the other remaining 40% is up to us! While I’ve been wired with a happiness gene, I’ve also chosen to learn about and practice being happy.
Marci Shimoff’s book Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out is another wonderful resource on happiness. One of the things she stressed is that happiness is something you have to be intentional about and practice. Just like you can’t expect to be a master pianist without dedicated practice, you can’t expect to master happiness without consistently making concentrated efforts.
I love Shimoff’s concept of having happiness habits. Being happy is a choice and a habit that each of us has the opportunity to make each day. I’ve been starting my daily affirmations with this beginning phrase, “I’m so grateful and happy….” Every time I say the word happy, it physically makes me smile, which in turn helps me feel more happy. I heard once that it takes many more muscles in your face to frown than it does to smile. Smiling to me is one outside indicator of happiness. Lasting happiness however needs to come from the insideout. Shimoff describes being happy for no reason as “an inner state of peace and well-being that doesn’t depend on our circumstances. It’s just an inner backdrop that you carry with you. Rather than trying to extract happiness from your life, you bring your happiness to all of your experiences.
One of her happiness habits from the heart is to spread loving kindness. “You’re your heart flows in love, you naturally feel happier. You can restart you heart’s flow by sending lovingkindness to anyone and everyone you meet.” After hearing about this concept, I’ve been intentionally practicing this throughout the day. When people are working or walking down the street I will look at them in the eyes, smile and silently send lovingkindness from my heart to theirs. I’ll never know if this makes them happier with my positive energy and love flowing their way, but it sure does make me feel happy doing it!
What happiness habits will you practice at your workplace?
For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.
Janae Bower is an inspirational speaker, award-winning author and training consultant. She founded Finding IT, a company that specializes in personal and professional development getting to the heart of what matters most.