Happiness is a state of complete satisfaction and harmonious fulfillment, usually considered difficult to achieve.
However, every day we are likely to experience moments of happiness. When these occur frequently, a person will tend to call himself happy. Since he or she is permanently happy with his or her lot, this person considers that he or she is enjoying what is called happiness.
How can we achieve this? Is happiness due to favorable circumstances, or can we make the choice to be happy?
A Harvard study published in 2015 (Grant Study on Happiness) tells us about the characteristics of people who say they are happier. Three main attitudes emerge from this decades-long study.
1. choose to be happy in everything they do;
2. make an effort to strengthen their closest relationships;
3. take care of themselves physically, financially and emotionally.
Choose to be happy in everything you do
The correlation between happiness and occupation, income or wealth is much less than the correlation between happiness and what people think about their occupation, income or wealth.
According to the Harvard study mentioned above,
47% of people who say they are very happy say they fully enjoy what they are doing now, compared to 14% of others.
62% of those who say they are very happy have not experienced and do not expect to experience a mid-life crisis, compared to 38% of others.
49% of those who say they are very happy say they are already pursuing their dreams, compared to 18% of others.
67% of those who say they are very happy say the happiest time of their life is now, compared to 20% of others.
Strengthen your relationships with your loved ones
The most important choice for happiness is to invest in your closest relationship, whether it's with your spouse, partner, parent, sibling or friend.
Again, according to the happiness study,
75% of people who say they are very happy give the highest rating to the importance of success in their intimate relationships, compared to 49% of others.
77% of those who say they are very happy said the state of their relationships was either "excellent" or "very good," compared to 48% of others.
Take care of yourself physically, financially and emotionally
We all know that exercising and taking care of yourself is strongly correlated with good health, and that good health promotes happiness. But financial health and emotional well-being are equally important dimensions in finding the balance that will ensure our fulfillment.
According to the Grant study results,
78% of people who say they are very happy report exercising at least three times a week, compared to 57% of those who do not (many of whom are likely to have lied...).
93% of those who say they are very happy say they are in excellent or very good physical health, compared to 74% of others.
68% of those who say they are very happy think they are "ready" for retirement or "on track", compared to 49% of others.
10% of those who say they are very happy perceive themselves as stressed, compared to 42% of others.
44% of those who say they are very happy say they are at peace with their work-life balance, compared to 13% of others.
Implications for you as an individual
1. Choose happiness in everything you do.
2. Strengthen your closest relationships.
3. Take care of yourself physically, financially and emotionally.
Implications for you as a leader
1. Focus on how your team members feel about what they are doing, even more than what they are doing.
2. Invest in relationships with your team members.
3. Invest in the physical, financial and emotional well-being of your team members.
Ultimately, what the experience of happy people reveals is that it is not so much the right circumstances that bring happiness, but the choice we can all make to invite it into our lives. If you cultivate this mindset, you will stop searching for happiness and take the steps to create and share it.