March 20 was the UN International Day of Happiness, a day designed to promote happiness as a legitimate goal of public policy and social progress. We missed it! Here at Comfort Colors, we certainly did feel something happy in the air, but the special UN day passed us by without much more notice.
We love the idea of a day designed to promote happiness (we like to think every single day should promote such design). That public policy should have this goal is commendable, indeed. We also believe that happiness can and should be a legitimate goal of business. Happy employees do a better job. Happy bosses treat their employees better and make better decisions. Happy businesses inspire loyalty among their customers and staff.
When your brain is happy, your work improves. Look at it this way: negative emotions like fear cause your body and your mind to basically close down and run. When you are confronted by a tiger in the wilderness, this might be a good thing, but at the office or the shop, not so much. Positive emotions on the other hand help you see new possibilities and even expand your skills and our limits. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises…and eventually maybe even your paycheck will rise. When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.
When your laughing the sun comes shining through.
It’s all about neuroplasticity, which means that thought has the power to actually change the structure of your brain. And why not? Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and positive psychology expert who spent 12 years at Harvard studying what makes people happy, suggests that you can master your brain’s neuroplasticity and create more happiness in your work life by practicing these five habits for 21 days: gratitude, journaling, exercise, meditation, and email. Here is his list (from his article in Psychology Today):
1. Write down three new things you are grateful for each day into a blank word document or into the free app I Journal. Research shows this will significantly improve your optimism even 6 months later, and raises your success rates significantly.
2. Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours. This is a strategy to help transform you from a task-based thinker, to a meaning based thinker who scans the world for meaning instead of endless to-dos. This dramatically increases work happiness.
3. Exercise for 10 minutes a day. This trains your brain to believe your behavior matters, which causes a cascade of success throughout the rest of the day.
4. Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out. This will help you undo the negative effects of multitasking. Research shows you get multiple tasks done faster if you do them one at a time. It also decreases stress and raises happiness.
5. Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on your team. This significantly increases your feeling of social support, which in my study at Harvard was the largest predictor of happiness for the students. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-advantage/201108/5-ways-turn-happiness-advantage)
At Comfort Colors, we are all about happiness – it is a fundamental aspect of comfort. These five habits seem like good ones to practice. Let’s do this happiness-at-work thing!