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Business, Diversity & Inclusion, Leaders

Leaders: You Control Your Happiness (International Day of Happiness 2015)

Shine even after the storm~International Day of Happiness is Friday, March 20, 2015. Are you planning to do anything special? This question came to me in a LinkedIn Group discussion from Dorothy Dalton, Global Talent Management Strategist.

I may have missed her post had I not been citing a statement from the Declaration of Independence earlier to a friend: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

My friend was being challenged with drama that was being cooked up by a family member and a professional relationship. More specifically, they were holding her accountable for their happiness. I shared with her that the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence do not guarantee happiness to any citizen. However, each of us is free to pursue happiness in many, many ways. Therefore, her family member and professional colleague needed to get off of their good intentions and bring some happiness into their lives.

The first time I heard of International Day of Happiness was about a year ago. Pharrell Williams’ Happy video had gone viral and was still trending strongly everywhere! In fact, Pharrell lent his voice and song to the second United Nation’s International Day of Happiness on March 20, 2014. People everywhere were encouraged to not only be happy, but to create their own videos dancing to Happy. And they did!

As a side note, earlier this month, Pharrell Williams was named the U.S. Happiness Promoter of the Year for 2014 by the Global Happiness Organization. He also has stepped up again for 2015. For the International Day of Happiness 2015, Pharrell Williams and the United Nations Foundation invite everyone to join a global HAPPY PARTY, to spread happiness and to demand climate action.  

So, why all this talk about happiness? Perhaps because there are so many unhappy people. I’ve had my bouts of unhappiness, and I have met my share of unhappy people over my lifetime. It goes without saying, most of us prefer to be happy. Unhappy people can create all sorts of problems for others. That includes employers, fellow employees, professional and personal relationships, and family members. Even our pets exhibit happiness, and most owners prefer them to be that way.

Perhaps Thomas Jefferson was onto something when he drafted the Declaration of Independence. As noted in the document, he never actually defined what happiness is, and chose to leave that definition to the individual to determine what it means to her or him. He also may have realized that it’s not enough to want to be happy: The path to happiness must be unobstructed, as long as it doesn’t interfere with another’s happiness, of course. [Ref 1]

Another side note: I get an e-newsletter periodically from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. I recently discovered that they offer a self-paced course on the Science of Happy. Recall a recent blog post that discussed STEM: What is Science?

The course zeroes in on a fundamental finding from positive psychology: that happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social ties and contributing to something bigger than yourself—the greater good. Students learn about the cross-disciplinary research supporting this view, spanning the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond. [Ref 2]

Knowledge of human behavior and emotions is especially important to promote a healthy, productive work environment where employees can contribute in the best ways possible. Hostile working environments result in low morale, loss of good employees over time, and lost profitability. Too often management concludes that this is the culture of the company or organization. Or it’s always been that way. Maybe, but does it have to stay that way?

Recalling a conversation a number of years ago with a Supervising Engineer (SE) for Instrumentation & Controls at a gas and electric utility that we both worked for:

SE: Do you expect other people to make you happy?

Me: No!

SE: Good, because if you are looking for people to make you happy, you will be disappointed.

Me: People can be very disappointing.

Happiness looks different to me as an adult than when I was a child. Perhaps this reflects personal growth, maturity and wisdom. This conversation on happiness would be incomplete if I didn’t talk about joy. While I desire to be happy, I favor joy even more. Joy is defined as a deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment.

Moving from a state of happiness to joy is also a journey that includes growth, maturity and wisdom. In the circles of influence in which I frequent, I have had more than a few persons that have attempted to steal my joy. What I am most thankful for, and perhaps could not say better is echoed in the verse of a praise song that has been sung for a very long time: This Joy that I have, the world didn’t give to me…the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.

Now, back to Dorothy’s question: What am I doing to observe International Happiness Day? I am going to join the Global Happy Party (https://www.globalhappyparty.com/) and do a few happy dances for a #HappyPlanet.

Thank you Pharrell for reminding us to be happy! Thank you Bishop T.D. Jakes for reminding us to have joy, not because your life is good, but because your God is good.

Members of the United Nations were very wise in seeing that happier people make a better world. Remember, whatever is or is not happening in your life, you can still choose to be happy.

References

  1. Inside the Mind, The Meaning of the Pursuit of Happiness, http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/pursuit-of-happiness-meaning2.htm
  2. Greater Good Science Center, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/
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About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.

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