Success creates success. As in 2013, for 2014 the United Nations has proclaimed the 20th of March as the International Day of Happiness! The rationale: happiness and well-being need to be recognised as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and governments should make efforts to maximize the welfare of all its citizens. For business this is a great opportunity too, but ultimately it all starts with the individual.
Investing in 'happiness' is not just a matter of ideology: happiness is good for business. As the Brazilian company SEMCO has shown: satisfied employees work harder, are more involved and less sick. It therefore seems logical for a company to facilitate employees as much as possible, but that requires more human leadership where employees are provided with the opportunity to take responsibility for their own actions. But creating the right conditions still does not guarantee having happy employees.
‘Happiness depends on ourselves' according to Aristotle. Even if your circumstances are great, without feeling happy, you will not be happy. This is a challenge for many people in business as well as in private life. A good example is the old adage ‘money does not buy you happiness’. Research has shown that extremely wealthy people are significantly less happy than people with an average income. Quite logical, because if you can have all you can imagine, what is left to be desired?
In this time of plenty - in the West - we have simply forgotten to appreciate the little things. As an old saying goes: ‘Happiness comes from attention to little things’ (Xiang Xu). Appreciating little things is possible for anyone, regardless of social position. But nowadays it is a considerable challenge, as the 100 Days Happy Challenge has shown. This challenge instructs participants to take a photograph of something they have enjoyed daily. This may simply be a cup of coffee, a compliment, or the sun breaking through the clouds. After 100 days all these memories are put into a personal booklet.
Just one picture, every day, possible right? Unfortunately not: as much as 71% of the participants weren’t able to keep this up. And please note, these are the people who consciously chose to enter this challenge. The main reason: too little time. Should we then conclude that most people do not have time to be happy?
It is important of course that both governments and businesses pay more attention to the value of happiness. But the true key to happiness is you: challenge yourself to make conscious decisions, to take responsibility and to enjoy the big and small moments in your life. The famous German philosopher Nietzsche knew: ‘Be your own master and creator’. To be happy is to make a conscious choice for the important things in your life. Get into The Zone.
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