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At the Zone we understand happiness is one of the keys to high performance in the workplace. Happiness precedes performance over the long term. The definition of happiness is not a life of relaxation on a beach or by a pool, rather happiness is a long term view, an inner practice and state of mind.
When we first explore the roots of dissatisfaction we find that we often ‘outsource’ our happiness. We imagine possessions, circumstances or other people control our happiness. “Its my boss, my work colleagues, the project, the market” etc. While these external factors can seem to determine our happiness, the real story lies within the self. We are not the only ones to understand this.
According to Shawn Achor’s groundbreaking research with Harvard University, he reveals that only 10% of long term happiness is external and that “90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.” The Dalai Lama XIV further declares that “happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.” Science and spirituality both agree: happiness is an inner game.
Recently, at a Zone team offsite in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, we explored how we define happiness and foster it within. The Zone team arrived upon this definition for happiness: “a state of well-being between contentment and intense joy that can be achieved even from a place of despair.”
“Happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.”
Dalai Lama XIV
The well-known adage ‘in every dark cloud there lies a silver lining’ provides a hint that our feelings don’t always reflect external circumstances, but rather how we look at them . We arrived upon four questions which can be used as a tool to evaluate your own, or another’s sense of happiness in any given moment. We recommend working with a partner and sharing the task of asking and answering. The four happiness evaluation questions are:
1. are you loving who you are ?
2. are you loving what you do ?
3. are you loving where you are going ?
4. are you loving who you are becoming ?
In pairs, we took the opportunity to sit in the sun, and contemplate these questions. Our discoveries aligned with our expectations. Happiness was not derived from our most lucrative career moves or most exotic adventures, but rather from the moments when we faced inner struggles courageously, spent time in passionate pursuit of purpose, or loving the ones closest to us.
We all hope to love the life we’re living and live the life we love, so the only way we can achieve this state of wellbeing called happiness is to accept what is happening, take responsibility, and make a decision about how we decide to be in every moment.
Once people, leaders, and organisations understand that we are the authors of our own life and thus our own happiness, we are no longer victims or reliant on the external to define who we are, what we believe and what we stand for. We can then individually and collectively get together and change the external circumstances and create what we really want. In the word’s of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
-Liam Forde, Fran Wallis, and Andrew Heneghan
Achor, Shawn. The Happy Secret to Better Work.
Lama XIV, Dalai. The Art of Happiness. Easton Press, 1998.
Wikipedia. Reinhold Niebuhr.
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