What contributes to workplace happiness
The case for creating a happier workplace
What do we focus on?
The answer is yes. If you want to improve your countries happiness it starts in the formative years with Children. The three areas of Child development that are key are
It is discovered that both parents and schooling affect a child’s development. This is what matters.
Family income has a substantial effect on a child’s academic performance, but a much smaller effect on a child’s behaviour and emotional health.
If the mother goes to work in the first year of a child’s life there are on average very small negative effects.
If the mother works in subsequent years, however it is seen as beneficial for academic performance and does no measured harm to the child’s emotional health.
Parental engagement with Children through reading and play is immensely valuable.
Conflict between parents is especially disadvantageous.
But the worst thing of all for the children emotional health and behaviour is a mother with poor mental health. It is suggested that a mother’s mental health matters more than the father’s.
We have spent the past week talking about the reasons for living that Gerontologist Dr Karl Pillimer compiled from talking to 1200 elderly people. People who have lived their lives and looked back and realized what contributes to a happy, fulfilling existence. Some of us may realize that the path we are taking through our lives does not correlate with what those that have experienced life and might have a greater panorama about how life works. We have talked about the importance of connections with others in relation to our wellbeing, we also talked about how travel is a wonderful way to open us up to situations and worlds that we might never have experienced if we had not left our couches. The first day we talked about the importance of looking after our health at a young age it will matter a lot once we get older and how worrying about what most likely will never happen only taints our present experiences negatively.
All our lives we have been thought to think big and there seems to be something wonderful about the imagined possibilities that we can achieve once we dream. The huge house, the sports car, the overburdened bank account, the super dooper yacht, the life of leisure, or life as a celebrity or oil magnate.
But what would happen if suddenly…. you were to think.. small. If you were to find wonder in the small things that life has to offer, the beautiful sight of sun dappling through your windows on a sunny morning, the softness of your pillow when so many in the world do not have them. The smell of freshly brewed coffee, the smile from a passing stranger or the scent of fresh-cut grass at the start of summer. The list could go on and on as it regularly does in my classes .It is when we value the beauty and intricacies of the small wonders in life that the outstanding moments become even more memorable.
A good example of this is Denmark and its people. The Danish people over the past 30 years have time and time again polled as the happiest nation on the planet followed by countries like Norway, Finland, Sweden and Netherlands.
A Danish Professor Kaare Christensen decided to look into why the Danes always polled so high in the World Happinesss report. He noted that ” In countries like Italy and Spain people have much higher expectations for what the coming year will bring, but they are not especially happy or satisfied with their existence”.
He suggests that Danes take a more realistic view of life ” Year after year we’re just happy things didn’t go as badly as we feared”. In truth Danish expectations are pretty modest. They don’t seek to change the world or dominate it. They are just Happy to be.
The Danish football team had not made it to the 1992 European cup they were beaten into second place by Yugoslavia a team that was to be withdrawn from the tournament ten days before it started due to international sanctions. Denmark quickly had to reassemble their players many who were now on holiday with their families. They arrived at the tournament and proceeded to advance from their group ahead of France and England. Beat the Dutch in the semi finals and then win the final with a 2-0 result against the mighty Germany. The country was ecstatic no one expected this to happen which made it all the more glorious.
As Kaare Christensen says” If you are doing pretty well and once in a while your outstanding you’re pretty happy about it but if you’re starting point is you should be outstanding that’s not good”.
By having low expectations one is rarely disappointed. We live in a world where our expectations are very high all the time “If a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well” we hear. We set targets for ourselves were we say that failure is not an option or that until something is perfect we are not happy about it. We constantly have to be a 10 when most of the time a 6 or 7 is ok . It is important that we understand that it’s ok to be ok. Because when we strive to be the best all the time and don’t achieve it what do we feel?
We have seen the joy on the faces of the Olympic athletes who have won gold and the desperation on the faces of some that have won silver to the delight at those that have won bronze. Studies have proven this. Those that won silver are feeling the disappointment of being so close to the worlds greatest. Those that won bronze ( like the Danish football team) might not have expected a medal at all and are ecstatic with their result.
Sometimes when we strive for goals in life we fail to see the wonder or the awesomeness of our life in the present for a feeling in the future. If you achieve your goal that is fine if you don’t achieve your goal that is also fine. Enjoy the journey.
We all know of examples of business that were very successful that turned over a profit and kept their staff with a comfortable salary who decide on World domination only to fold completely within a few years.
Remember that life is more than achieving goal after goal and feeling that perfection should always follow you and everything in life must be a 10. As I tell all people who attend my workshops…. sometimes it’s ok to be just…ok!
1) Although genes and upbringing influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (income and environment) affect only about 10 percent. The remaining 40% is accounted for by our outlook and activities, including our relationships, friendships and jobs, our engagement in the community and our involvement in sports and hobbies.
2) A good mood has a distinct smell. Scientists have found that people can judge whether someone is in a positive mood from their body odour alone. In one experiment men and women were shown scary films while their armpit odour was collected on gauze pads. A week later researchers asked strangers to decide which pads came from people in a good mood and which came from frightened people. They were able to do this with surprising accuracy.
3) Older people are more satisfied with there lives than younger people: a recent survey by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found that people aged 20-24 are sad for an average of 3.4 days per month as opposed to just 2.3 days for people aged 65-74
4) If you do 20 minutes of exercise, three days per week for six months, your general feeling of happiness will improve by 10-20%.
5) People who rate in the upper reaches of happiness on psychological tests develop about 50% more antibodies than average in response to flu vaccines.
6) According to researchers at The World Database of Happiness at Erasmus University in Holland, Denmark is officially the happiest nation in the world, followed closely by Malta, Switzerland, Iceland, Ireland and Canada.
7) In the USA clinical depression is 3-10 times more common today than two generations ago.
8) Immigrants tend to acquire the happiness characteristics of the nation to which they move, not the nation from which they were born.
9) Richer workers tend to be happier than poorer colleagues, but research suggests that happy people tend to have greater potential to become rich, so it’s a chicken or egg scenario
10) People who suffer strokes or other debilitating diseases suffer tremendously in the short term but after a while their happiness is only slightly below the average of the population.
11) When people get married their happiness peaks, but after a while their happiness returns to the level it was before they got married.
12) Women tend to experience their all-time lowest life satisfaction at age 37, whereas men typically experience this at 42
13) Having 100-200 belly laughs a day is the equivalent of a high impact workout, burning off up to 500 calories.
14) Gold doesn’t guarantee happiness. Studies of Olympic athletes found that bronze medal winners are happier than silver medal winners and sometimes happier than gold medallists. According to the Australian teams psychologist , Graham Winters, it feels better to come third when you are not expecting it than to be pipped for first.
15) The late pioneering social psychologist Professor Michael Argyle, who conducted many happiness studies, showed that among the things that made people happy are sport, music and – most of all dancing. Encouraging sports facilities everywhere would greatly increase a nations happiness. Group dancing which, which combines, exercise, music, community, touch and rules, also drastically increases happiness.
16) Several studies have shown that a pet can reduce blood pressure and stress, promoting health and happiness.
17) After basic needs are met, extra material wealth has little or no effect on life satisfaction or happiness (broadly speaking you would need to receive a windfall of more than £1 million to transform you from an unhappy person to a happy person and even then the effect is often temporary).
18) People in steady relationships are generally happier than singles.
19) In nations with high levels of income equality, such as the Scandinavian countries, happiness tends to be higher than in nations with unequal wealth distribution, such as the USA. People tend to prefer more local autonomy and more direct democracy to increased income.
20) According to a new look at a 40 year old study on child rearing practices conducted at Harvard University, those children who were hugged and cuddled more grew up to be the happiest.
Norway is a country which has so many of the attributes of a happy society. People in Norway experience less anxiety about what is around the corner for them. They have an education system that is free and available to all to make choices career wise without incurring the burden of financial debt in the early years of working life. Many jobs in Norway are seen as job for life and are recruited with this in mind. Maternity and Paternity leave can be taken for over a year on between 80 to 100% pay. Sick pay is 100% of Salary. July is a month of Holiday which is paid for by contributions paid in advance by workers. They have bridging holidays if a national holiday falls on a Tuesday of Thursday to give longer off. That’s smart
Unemployment is at 4% but if you become one of the 4% you are paid 62% of your previous salary until you get your next employment. The Health service is free after you have paid roughly €210 in charges for the year. Any operation that the hospital can not provide for you domestically is organised and paid for abroad.
You are unlikely to go to prison but if you do you will work on a programme of reahabilitation to return you as a functioning member of Norwegian society when you leave. Everyone in prison has a job and many cater for themselves,Trust is a major part of society and everyones wages and taxes are available to view online.
The Government has not squandeed the money made from the oil reserves discovered less than 50 years ago. They have delayed gratification and created a fund of $885 billion that will ensure that the country survives economic downturns and guarantees a pension on retirement to all Norwegian citizens. With A health life expectancy of 82 years and a beuitiful clean environment to live in. You can see why Norwegians feel as happy about life as they do.
Maybe that happiness can help Norway forget all those nul point Eurovision losses and 11 last place positions.
Here is what some of our happier clients have said about us.
We love what you do and we know how you have made us feel 94% of Users Recommend Wakeup as outstanding after sale support.
Usually hate these sort of things, but this was great. Left knowing my colleagues much better, great day.
Loved it! Steve is brilliant.
Thoroughly enjoyed today! Had no idea what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. Very thoughtful, insightful and inspiring