Are you happy? Happiness, work and good business

Last week’s very successful online Learning and Skills Group Conference was a hoot (see archive). As it was online, I felt I could take a few risks with the content – putting up sessions that interested me and had value, but which wouldn’t necessarily normally fit into a physical learning and development conference.

One of them was Jay Cross’s session on well being. I’m so glad Jay volunteered to get up at an unearthly hour on the West Coast to spread the word – I learnt a lot from his talk, and more from his blog.

As Jay talked, I was aware that suddenly happiness is everywhere. Or at least, that people are talking about it everywhere.

And for good reason – happiness and well being are not side effects. They underpin everything else we do.

Harvard Business Review devoted their Jan/Feb edition to happiness, and Henry Stuart (who runs a training company called … Happy) has been talking about the necessity of happiness at work for years – as when he recently launched Action for Happiness at Cass Business School. Meanwhile, Ara Ohanian, CEO of CERTPOINT Systems, says that happiness in the workplace is so important that he has changed his title to Chief Happiness Officer and CEO. Ara and Henry share a view, but they share something else besides – positive, productive workplaces. Happiness is good business.

This is no blip. Googling ‘chief happiness officer’ brings up 146,000,000 results.

Now, a lot of interesting things come my way in the learning and development field, and they all lay claim to being the next big thing. Some ( a few) actually do make a difference. They tend to be the ones that have something extra to them, something fundamental. I think this current focus on happiness and well being is one of them.

I’m no fan of pop psychology, but this isn’t fluffy nonesense. It’s supported by Positive Psychology. For more on this, see Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania.

If you want to know more, you could read the book. You could also attend an event in mid-August in London. It’s run by Sukh Pabial (@sukhpabial), whom I know through Twitter (and no, I have no monetary or other interest in this. I just like Sukh and wish him well with what looks like a timely venture!)

Sukh has been writing about various aspects of Positive Psychology which provide useful content to mull over and debate. One of the things that interests me in particular about this field of psychology is the focus on strengths of a persons character, how these should be amplified, and how you can increase lasting effects of feeling good with practical exercises.

You can find out more, and register for the event through the Positive Psychology eventbrite page.

7 responses to “Are you happy? Happiness, work and good business

  1. You might be interested in the Better Life Index which has been established by the OECD – it allows you to compare quality of life measures across countries – http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/

  2. Thanks Clive – important resource. Bhutan, I seem to remember scores better than GDP would predict.

  3. Donald Clark

    Chief Happiness Officer – that quite literally made me wince. So HR and training now thinks it’s in the business of my emotional welfare. The ‘happiness’ debate was played out in the late 18th early 19th century and was found wanting. Even Seligman has abandoned ‘happiness’ as a useful concept (read Flourishing – although similarly flawed).

    • I agree with Donald (T) here. This really has stopped being in the hands of a few enthusiastic HR folk. Sarah Lewis, in her book Positive Psychology at Work, makes a clear argument that using practises born from this field create a more productive, innovative and engaged workforce. The debate is a useful one, and one I’m hoping to encourage.

  4. The point is Donald that this isn’t HR. This is a matter of business people finding it makes financial sense to think of their people first, rather than their processes.

  5. Really appreciate you making mention of the Positive Psychology in Application event, Donald. That’s very kind of you and I’ll need that good luck :)

  6. Pingback: When bloggers are the secret to success « Thinking About Learning

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