Happiness research has become a hot topic in the past few years. For centuries poets, philosophers and theologians have written about happiness, especially how to find and sustain it. Then, about twenty years ago, psychologists, economists and neuroscientists, among others, began to study happiness scientifically. The current issue of Harvard Business Review (January-February 2012) summarizes the history of happiness research and documents how happiness can have a significant impact on business, leadership, counseling, coaching, and almost every area of life. Here are a few specifics:
- “Improving your happiness improves your chances of success.” We improve
happiness by developing new habits, nurturing or encouraging others, and developing positive attitudes about stress. “Stress is not just an obstacle to growth; it can be the fuel for it.”
- Happy employees and team members are more productive and engaged in their work than those who are unhappy. These thriving people are passionate and enthusiastic because they sense that what they do makes a difference. They blossom when they are challenged but wither when threatened. Happy people also learn continually, developing their abilities and new skills.
- Major events like a promotion, raise or new purchase don’t bring sustained happiness. That comes from consistent experiences that we see as positive. This may seem like may be “small stuff…but small stuff matters.”
- Gratitude matters too. “Write down the things you’re grateful for, and tell somebody why,” says one article. Gratitude may be one big secret of happiness.
A few magazine articles cannot summarize all of the happiness research. But how interesting that the HBR never mentions God or the happiness that comes to people who know what they believe, have hope for the future, and share their beliefs with other believers who give friendship, support and encouragement. Is this an aspect of happiness research?
What do you think? Please leave a comment.