Today, 20 March 2017, is International Happiness Day, a United Nations global celebration coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries, supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations.
The campaign believes that people are now recognising that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy. Because of this growing interest, many governments, communities and organisations are using happiness data, and the results of subjective well-being research, to enable policies that support better lives.
Happiness as a fundamental goal
When we think about human happiness, economists tend to emphasise the role of personal income; libertarians espouse personal freedom and autonomy; sociologists talk of social capital and trust in society; and political scientists look to constitutional order and control of corruption. Yet none of these disciplines do justice to the concept of happiness
In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognised happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples”.
At 10Eighty our motto is “work hard, do good and along the way have fun”. We firmly believe that the smart way to organise your career is to play to your strengths and if you find a role you love and it won’t even seem like working.
A workplace where people love their work and are calm, stress-free and happy is more likely to be productive. Laughter brings people together; we like to be with those who are having fun. Creativity, agility and flexibility are key to organisational success and a fun workplace is more productive, so it attracts people and profits.
Taking happiness seriously
Beyond a basic point, increasing economic growth loses the ability to lift happiness levels but there is a lot we can all do to make the world a better place.
Happiness is creative, proactive and constructive and is a state best achieved when shared. When you contribute to the happiness of those around you, you improve your own chances of happiness.
At a workplace level it may sound unfair, or even unprofessional, but it is nicer to work with people who are happy, likeable, positive, enthusiastic, and energetic. It is at least in part a function of our intention to be collaborative, appreciative, positive and self-aware.
Famously Bhutan measures the Gross National Happiness of their population. Traditional economic theory measures growth but doesn’t really look very hard at what is being grown. If you ask people what really matters to them and offer them alternatives such as family, spirituality, pleasure, responsibility, generosity, material wealth and career you will materialism ranking at the bottom of the list and family at the top. We know what makes us happy but that doesn’t necessarily stop the chase after money, power and status.
We can’t legislate for happiness but we can provide the conditions that help the growth of happiness. In the workplace this would mean an organisational culture that values and promotes, inter alia, trust, openness, collaboration, fairness and diversity.
The Action for Happiness pledge is: “I will try to create more happiness in the world around me”.