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Happiness (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series) Review for #Careerlions

Happiness (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series) Review for #Careerlions

As mentioned in a previous article, the Harvard Business Review just released a new series on emotional intelligence. The series focusses especially on our well-being in the workplace. This review covers a review on the book Happiness and is constructed as a collection of articles by among others Daniel Gilbert, Annie McKee, Gretchen Spreitzer, and Teresa Amabile. The main topic of the book is to uncover the research on measuring happiness, personal behavior frameworks, management techniques building happiness in the workplace, and why the happiness hype could be overrated. Another book with must-have knowledge for #careerlions. Read on if you are curious about my findings on this book.

Articles in the book

Here, is a short overview of the articles in Happiness:

  • “Happiness Isn’t the Absence of Negative Feelings” by Jennifer Moss
  • “Being Happy at Work Matters” by Annie McKee
  • “The Science Behind the Smile” an interview with Daniel Gilbert by Gardiner Morse
  • “The Power of Small Wins” by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer
  • “Creating Sustainable Performance” by Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine Porath
  • “The Research We’ve Ignored About Happiness at Work” by André Spice and Carl Cedarström
  • “The Happiness Backlash” by Alison Beard

How can we define happiness?

First things first, what is happiness exactly in anyway. Well, reading this book I definitely know what it is not:

  • It is not being cheerful, joyous, and content all the time,
  • It is not always having a smile on your face,
  • It is not an end that we should be chasing, and
  • It is not the absence of suffering.

A closer definition to happiness I found in this book is:

  • Regularly engaging in those activities that make us happiest, helping us to lead more fulfilling lives,
  • Enjoying the present moment by being engaged in an activity,
  • Having the emotional flexibility to experience a full range of emotion, and
  • The ability to rebound from suffering.

Why do we need to be concerned with our happiness in the workplace?

Neuroscientist have proven that happy workers are better, harder and smarter workers. Also, unhappy workers are no fun to work with in addition to being less value-adding. Negative emotions cause our parts of the brain to shut down, involved with our abilities to think and be engaged. Mind you, that being too happy can have negatives results as well. These are being less creative and taking too much risk. An example of this is falling in love for instance. Overall, happiness makes us more creative and productive.

How can we become happier in the workplace?

Research has indicated that there are three key aspects that will ensure happiness in the workplace, resulting in an engaged workforce:

  1. Have a meaningful vision of the future, as people want to know where the future is taking them. It is especially relevant to link the organization’s vision to a personal vision, as behavioral research on intentional change has taught us that this is when people learn and change.
  2. Create sense of purpose that is not just shareholder value. People want to contribute to something meaningful, exciting and engaging them.
  3. Maintain good relationships as close, trusting, and supportive relationships are highly important when it comes to one’s state of mind.

Other tips to increase your happiness are:

  • Appropriately challenge yourself, having goals that are within reach.
  • Focus on having good experiences more frequently as opposed to just a few great ones.
  • Helping others as this spike your happiness level.
  • Limit the amount of mind-wandering, as this lowers your mood significantly.
  • Build in the opportunity to manage small wins on meaningful work, as that boosts your happiness level and sets you up for the long run.
  • Work on your vitality as this will inspire others, building in the necessary breaks you need.
  • Continuously look for opportunities to learn as you will acquire both new abilities and more potential to grow further.

Do we really need to be happy all the time?

Studies have uncovered that very few experiences actually affect us for periods longer than three months. Naturally, humans find a silver lining that will leave them happier after a traumatic experience then they could have ever dreamed. We don’t even need natural happiness that we get when we get our way, the opposite referred to as synthetic happiness will do just fine. They end up feeling exactly the same.

At work, there is also no need to be happy all the time or be the happiest employee ever. The constant pursuit of happiness can be exhausting. It can also make you more vulnerable when you lose your job for instance and diminish the meaning of your personal life. Being too happy can also make your more selfish, as studies revealed the happier few are generally less generous. If you value happiness at work too much, you will also experience being lonelier as it may disconnect you from others. Overall, it is probably best not to strive for a job that makes you happy all the time. Even if you were to find it, you might not even like the person you would become.

Do I recommend this book?

Another YES! Again, a short read. However, the book is intriguing nonetheless. As per usual, the scientific side of the articles and numerous examples make this another book worth reading. Taking in all of the different perspectives and tips carefully, hopefully being able to put the acquired knowledge into reality.

So, what is it that makes me truly happy? I love being engaged in work for #careerlions, challenging myself to learn new things or improve, do Irish dancing, and work in the aviation industry. Can I now say, ten years after the most traumatic experience of my life losing the best mum in the world and being severely injured myself, that I am happy? Yes, life goes on. It goes on because it has too. I am able to say that am able to experience the full range of emotions, sometimes even too well. I rebounded and found my “glitter” lining.

My favorite article in the book is “Creating Sustainable Performance” by Spreitzer and Porath. They offer some great airline examples, which is makes this the ultimate winner of course. Other than that, I like the fact that “The Research We’ve Ignored About Happiness at Work” by Spice and Cedarström offers some counterweight to the other articles. They claim that happiness in the workplace isn’t all what it is made out to be. This way you are really enabled to create your own view on what your expectations of happiness in the workplace is. The book doesn’t force its opinion on you, but provides you with the research to establish your own founded perspective.

What are your first thoughts on Happiness? Are you going to order this new addition to the HBR collection? Shop your copy here. Don’t hesitate to share with us in the comment section.

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