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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

Open the Door to Your Own Happiness

I'm embarrassed to admit that I recently had a pity party for myself. Please don't tell anyone! I had been traveling a lot for work, I had 2 kids sick with Strep throat and the Flu and then I made a trip to the ER because I slipped on an icy day and ended up with stitches. The economy and layoffs have affected a ton of my friends. For a moment I left my Smart Zone!

I have to remember that I am responsible for my own happiness. It's true - Harvard began teaching the class "Happiness 101" a few years ago. And the field of Positive Psychology is growing in colleges around the country. Our country recognizes that one's happiness and well-being will contribute to economic growth.

Habitually happy people have creative, independent and adventuresome spirits - they appreciate other people, especially those with differences that they can learn from. People in the Smart Zone experience general happiness and contribute to a positive work environment. Even if "Don't Worry be Happy" isn't your company theme song, here are some smart tips for opening the door to happiness in your organization:

  • Use technology to connect to people - not to disconnect. According to scientist Alvin Weinberg, "Technology makes it easier and easier to disconnect from other people, and from ourselves." Remember that human interaction can boost your mood. Make it a rule that if an email is more than 2 paragraphs that you will pick up the phone and call instead.

  • Finish what you start. Research shows that when we are disciplined and deliberate with projects that it has an 18% positive effect on happiness. It's not always easy to be conscientious and finish a large task - but we feel better about ourselves when we have the sense of accomplishment.

  • Share a silly moment. "Laughter may be the shortest distance between 2 brains," says Daniel Goleman in his book Social Intelligence. Think of the immediate sense of closeness you get with someone when you share a nice hearty laugh. Take a look at this silly Saturday Night Live clip. For that moment it's like you are in sync with each other's thoughts.

  • Know what makes others happy. Happy people are attuned to the emotions of others. Try these ideas: headed to meet with a client? When you grab yourself a Café Latte on the way to the meeting buy one for your client also. Did you eat lunch out today? Order an extra dessert to bring back for a co-worker. Spent a few days out of the office where your co-workers had to cover for you? Bring them back a small gift from your time away - it can just be a pen from the hotel or a whimsical trinket from the airport gift shop.

  • Smile. You can actually trick your brain's neurotransmitters into thinking you are happy with a smile. When you smile at people they typically smile back - it's a natural reflex to mimic the facial expressions of others. If you are in a bad rut, clench a pencil in your teeth and you will force your face into a smile. This will subtly evoke a positive feeling. Try it!

Just for fun, take this short happiness quiz.

Do you have 1 of the Top 10 Happiest Jobs?

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