In a world where business is driven by competitive advantage, power and wealth, it is easy for happiness to take a back seat. But we know that the ultimate goal of happiness has the power to bring not just well-being, but also career prosperity.
Randstad’s consulting psychologist and author of the best-selling book ‘Emotional Capitalists’, Dr Martyn Newman, has found evidence that illustrates strong links between particular emotional skills and our health, well-being and wealth in his research.
“We have found high levels of emotional capital lead to increased productivity, and as many studies show, happy people are more creative, solve problems better and more quickly, live longer and enjoy high levels of leadership influence. When people feel better they perform better.”
So how can we feel happier more often? Some of the following points may surprise you:
1. Environment isn’t everything
No more than 10 - 15% of your overall satisfaction is down to “outward conditions”, such as wealth, being in a committed relationship or high IQ.
2. It’s not all about your genes either
Although there is a basic level of genetic predisposition for happiness, genetic studies also illustrate that the future of a person’s life satisfaction is not set in stone. To this effect, a study of 4,000 sets of twins concluded that only about half of life satisfaction comes from genetic programming.
“This means that half of our future happiness rests in our own hands,” Dr Newman says, “We are neither at the mercy of our moods nor our environment, but rather our emotional well-being is more in our control that we ever imagined”
3. You’re in control of your happiness!
Our happiness is considerably influenced by three things:
The way we live and think
How we perceive life’s events
How we react to them
“We can take the edge off negative feelings by directly awakening positive feelings. We often have more freedom than we realise to improve our perception of a situation – even when we can’t directly change the situation itself.”
Even as adults, our brain continues to grow, develop and change. These changes are made by our thoughts and more prominently, our emotions. Similar to learning a new sports skill, we can train and exercise our natural aptitude for positive feelings, leading to a greater capacity for emotional wealth.
Optimism can be used as a strategy for dealing with difficulties and making the most out of opportunities. The more optimistic you are, the easier it is to carry on with that particular mindset. On the other hand, if we give in to negative emotions like disappointment and sadness, we not only fail to alleviate them, but we actually reinforce them.
“Repeated emotions like joy or sadness act like drops of water on a rock. Each one evaporates quickly, but over time many drops carve out a channel. Fortunately, it is not only negative emotions that can become entrenched with regular use – optimism, too, can become a habit.”
As well as the effect of practising positive thoughts, another fundamental finding from the science of happiness is that almost everyone feels happier when they're with other people, especially when they are contributing to the lives of others. As Newman states, “Practicing kindness, compassion and other virtues lifts your stocks of emotional capital. Giving makes you feel good about yourself and it creates meaning in your life”.
4. Happiness makes you more productive
When your mind is peaceful, it becomes more creative and agile, in turn allowing you to take in information more effectively. Your mood automatically lifts, and a consistently positive mood can help you to be efficient, productive and focused - the perfect recipe for career success.
Now is the time to take a health check on your career happiness. If you’re feeling great, then good on you! But if you’re feeling unsatisfied or trapped, then it’s time to get inspired and make a change.
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