Posts from the ‘happiness’ Category
July 26th, 2019
In our lives and work we are driven innately by what we value and the social context of what is around us. We may also be being influenced by our bodies’ and minds’ automatic wiring, pushing us towards and away from things and people that we desire and avoid. We react, make decisions and lead our lives by these implicit rules and behaviours. This is us on automatic pilot- our own personal intelligence that helps and guides us through life, so that we don’t have to stop and think every second to appraise what might be best.
It is a complex web and who you talk to will focus on a different element of that web- driven by what is important or makes sense to them. Very simply, social psychologists and behavioural scientists may tell you that actually you have little agency and that your behaviour is determined by the context that you work and live within- social comparison and a desire to belong within groups being at play. Other specialisms of psychology will focus perhaps more on the individual level, your own personality perhaps, or common themes among people seeking out life satisfaction. Philosophers will come again at another angle exploring how do we know what is important to us? Challenging us to think about what matters and what doesn’t and why.
Working as an executive coach and an organisational development consultant these questions come up again and again. What do we value? What does success look like? How come what I used to love I don’t anymore- what next? What type of success drives me and why…Where should we be as a business? Why? How can we stop falling out as a team? How can I raise staff wellbeing?
So I invite you to consider a couple of things:
You may in fact be being driven by your social context and not actually what makes you happy…do your really want that degree, get married, promotion etc For a challenging look at these social memes that may be guiding you I invite you to read Paul Dolan’s latest book and have a look at this MOOC
Have you stopped to consider what really matters to you? What are your personal indicators for a good life? The fields of positive psychology and wellbeing try and measure this area using indicators such as satisfaction with life and psychological wellbeing. Looking at your own personal balance between eudaimonia (flourishing/fulfilling our potential) or what is purposeful to us and what makes us feel happy in the moment -our own personal pleasure (with thanks to Paul Dolan).
For some of us that are in the lucky position to have moved beyond pure survival, pleasure may be our key driver for others success and a good life is more about realising our potential, learning, growing and challenging ourselves. What is your balance? To explore this further I invite you to start being your own personal investigator- noticing in the moment when you feel good and not so good- is it when your ‘think’ you ‘should’ feel good, perhaps having a go at this self test for a few days. If you are struggling with a lack or purpose or meaning have a go at the test above and reflect on what is really important to you in your life? What challenge, change, learning or area of growth would bring you more fulfilment and/or what contexts (hobbies, workplace, communities) would support and enable this?
Interested in exploring this further both individually or as an organisation? Drop me a line email@example.com
November 4th, 2013
Why do I ask? Because it may just help you too…At the end of October, I attended the empathy and compassion conference in society and was transported into a truly inspiring atmosphere of the latest research and thinking around ways to help improve our individual and collective resilience, so as to build a more compassionate society.
We as human beings are naturally programmed to help others, you only need to look at acts of bravery and courage (both big and small) to see how much they are rooted in putting other people before ourselves.
Taking a secular view on thinking from Buddhist meditation practices, researchers have found that those that meditate regularly develop an ability to self soothe themselves when times get tough, maintain perspective and once they get themselves balanced have a greater ability to act compassionately towards others without getting burnout.
The key? Is self compassion. When things gets tough in our ‘threat and drive’ based work organisations we all have a tendency to be our biggest internal critic and this then leeches out into a wider culture of the survival of the strongest with potentially devastating impact on people’s wellbeing, cooperation, productivity and society as a whole.
Through starting to be kinder to ourselves and being a bit more self compassionate, we naturally will start to act more compassionately towards others and this can impact up to 3 degrees of separation from ourselves, as well as increase our own wellbeing and happiness. Benefits to work organisations? Researchers have shown this is good for business too..those that start to develop more balanced work cultures that value acts of giving towards others see increased staff loyalty, increased customer service and reduced turnover as well as a reduced health bill from the impact of stress.
Want to find out where to start? Have a look at the links through this article and all it takes to get going is just 7 minutes meditation a day to take a deep breath, stop and be still. Spending time becoming aware of our own mind is a first step towards helping yourself and helping others.
January 15th, 2013
At the end of last year, to further develop my services to sustain wellbeing within organisations in these current tough times, I attended a Masterclass with Nic Marks on a new Wellbeing at Work survey. Nic is known for his great work on wellbeing and developing the happy planet index
The survey is available to individuals and small teams (up to 5) and for a small cost of £6 per head (plus VAT) an organisation/team can survey its staff and gets results broken down by their own chosen demographics. Larger organisations will be able to take advantage of lowering marginal costs per user if they choose to survey the whole organisation. Small organisations can for the first time have a state of the art staff survey at an exceptionally reasonable cost.
The survey is based on a dynamic model of wellbeing developed with leading experts and is uniquely grounded in the latest psychological findings around wellbeing and happiness. Each question has been carefully selected to reflect what the evidence says impacts well-being at work and has been tested with thousands of respondents.
The wellbeing survey results give a more complete picture of employees’ experience than standard engagement surveys as it includes engagement and stress but also employees’ positive emotional experiences. For Chief Executives, Directors and HR departments the results can be compared between teams or by other demographics and the results act as a “mirror” reflecting back what is happening within the organisation and help people to have insights on how work could be happier.
What I like about the survey is that it provides instant individual as well as organisational results for real-time feedback, provides a simple interface presenting results in traffic light colours and has National benchmarks automatically built into the questions, providing individuals, teams and organisations with an anchor point to understand and compare scores. The survey can also be repeated over time to measure any change. To find out more have a look at the survey website
If you are interested in taking a temperature check of your organisation or team and are committed to some follow up action I believe this is a great tool to open up some very important discussions around sustaining and improving happiness at work. As research shows happier employees are more productive, healthier and creative and are more loyal and provide better customer service to clients. A win-win!
Please get in touch if you would like to find out more!
January 7th, 2013
It is the time of year for thinking about resolutions and considering what the future might hold. Many of the goals set will last a matter of days and some will last the test of time. Key in thinking about the goals you set yourself at this time of year is whether they are intrinsically motivating to you- are they something you feel you ‘should’ or ‘must’ do rather than something that you are genuinely interested in.
In the following, I have listed some thoughts from the fields of positive psychology and wellbeing to help you in setting yourself up for a happy and healthy 2013:
1. Take a moment to look back at 2012- what were the high points, what made them high? Try and relive them in your mind and savour the moments. By building savouring into your everyday you will start to look out for the good things as they happen. By taking notice of your surroundings and what makes you feel alive you will start to become more and more aware of what feeds you and what matters to you and build more of these experiences into your daily life.
2. Set some goals. By becoming clearer about what you would like to happen we set up a chain of events that create an energy and momentum working behind the scenes on these goals. Trust your creative mind to come up with some ideas rather than feeling that you have to plan everything down to the finest detail. Recognise that goals are statements of intent and that key is the movement towards the goal and the learning along the way, not necessarily whether you achieved it totally or not. Recognise the level of mastery you are obtaining. Finally, make sure that the goals you set yourself inspire you, work to your strengths and move towards something positive rather than away from something negative.
3. Find ways to connect with people in as many ways as you can to help build a support community for you and for them.Try and ensure a balance between virtual connection and physically being present. Give people the luxury of your total attention (minus the technology distractions)
4. Find ways to get physically active in a way that works for you be it running, walking, dancing or gardening
5. Try something new, get curious about something and find out as much as you can. Anything that helps you learn and do something that you haven’t done before. And when you have done that find something else that engages you…
6. Think about how you might give something for the benefit of others. Be it time, money, knowledge, expertise or anything else for that matter. It feels good to help others.
7. Find ways to build creativity into your life, get curious- do something that you have never done before or that surprises you. Do something completely different to what you would normally do and challenge yourself. Once you have mastered something new increase the challenge to maintain your level of stimulation and keep boredom at bay!
8. Give yourself permission to relax, stop, recharge and reflect!
May 11th, 2012
Central to my positive psychology approach to Organisational Development and Coaching, is looking at whether an individual is flourishing in their work and their wider life. By focusing on helping an individual explore their strengths and helping align these with their work there can be a win/win in terms of an individual’s happiness and wellbeing as well as an increase in individual and organisational productivity.
An interesting article, written by Dr Bridget Juniper and promoted by Action for Happiness, about the downfalls of traditional productivity orientated employee engagement measurement, argues the case for employee wellbeing becoming more central in workplace productivity measures and quotes
…the top 10 drivers of employee engagement, identified by Towers Watson – ISR, show that, of 75 possible areas, the one that was rated the most important was the extent to which employees believed that their senior management had a sincere interest in their wellbeing.
The research goes on to ask employees whether or not they think their senior management actually exhibit this behaviour, with only 39% believing this to be the case. By contrast, the second driver relates to employee development, which is more often associated with conventional engagement measures.
In these times of uncertainty and strain, even more consideration needs to be given to employee wellbeing both for the benefit of the individual but also for organisations and society as a whole. By creating leadership strategies and working practices that help to enhance wellbeing, we will be helping all of us to remain resourceful, happy, healthy and productive.