The Economics of Happiness 2018

Posted on October 8, 2018 by mmaloney

I have always had a passion for helping people find their happiness.  Over the years it has grown from a seedling of an idea to the execution of a business and beacon of light that guides my leadership style.  Happiness at work has become a growing passion as I have watched too many peers, colleagues and friends work in environments where they are unhappy and dissatisfied at the end of the day.  I want everyone to realize that where you spend your time will guide your happiness, and you have complete control over your time.  All of this leading to the conclusion that you control your path in life and you need to take ownership over your fulfillment, success and happiness.

Happiness is something that most people strive for.  It is less common that you will find someone who says they don’t want to be happy in life, compared to someone that says I want to be happy, I am just not sure how.

Where people differ is what they think will make them happy.  There is research that says that you can control about 40% of your happiness. Some of your happiness is determined by genetics.  The remainder are determined by behaviours and life circumstances, and some of these are not always within your control.  However you ultimately have a large amount of control over how happy you are, 40% is a lot of control.  It is not like we have a 40% chance of winning the lottery!  I would argue being happy and fulfilled in life is better than winning the lottery!

How can we actually impact our own happiness feelings and circumstances?

My theory is this… we need to have more input of positive units each day, then input of negative units each day.  An input could be an interaction, it could be an activity, it could be a result of time we spend doing something.  It could be our own self talk.  Ultimately we need to take control of our time and more importantly our negative inputs.

How can we take such control?

Identify things that make you happy and do more of them!

What makes you happy and what makes others happy are not necessarily the same thing.  Though we often feel pressured by society, someone important to us, or an employment situation about where we need to spend our time and energy.

Some perspective on what I mean;

If you are reading this and reflecting on your personal life, think about the things you may feel obligated to do.  Maybe it is play dates for your kids.  For some moms this would be a positive input, but for others this may be a negative input, that you do only to satisfy an expectation of being a mom.  If you perceive play dates as an expectation, and don’t get joy from them; you now feel guilty about being a bad mom.  Not because you are, but because having play dates became an expectation of moms at some point in the last decade or so.

If you are reading this and reflecting on your professional life, are you unhappy at work?  Do you feel like you are failing?  Do you feel like you are exhausted at the end of even a short day?  Or are you unproductive, and often wonder what you actually accomplished at the end of a day?   As a leader do you have an employee this reminds you of?

Ask yourself:

  • What things in my day give me energy? These are things you could do for hours and never get tired.
  • What things do I miss if they don’t happen in my week?
  • What things actually make me feel better when I am done them then when I started them?
  • Who do I laugh the most with?
  • What am I doing and where am I when my mind feels the least cluttered?

How can you organize your day and your time to do more of the things you thought of above and less of the things that cause the stuck feeling?

Sometimes we stand in our own way when it comes to the things we need to eliminate or do less of in our lives.  You know there are things you want to eliminate, you just don’t know how to.  Do you settle for the way things are and not take the risks needed to see what the possibility of more happiness could be?  Too often you know what stands in our way of happiness and just truly don’t know how to change it, or won’t admit what it will take (read: sacrifices).

Whether you feel this way at work, or at home you can still control the overall happiness you feel.  I believe you need to find the right ratio of happiness creating hours in your day compared to draining hours in your day.

If you work an 8 hour day… and you spend 5 hours on things that increased your energy and happiness and 3 hours on things that didn’t feel as productive.  At the end of the day would you be satisfied?  I would!  Now if you spent 1 hour on things that gave you energy and 7 hours on things that drained you, my guess is at the end of the day you would feel tired, frustrated and likely ready to just go home and drop on the couch for the evening.

This is a very simplistic view, however our bodies are energy systems. In order to “charge” your personal energy, you need to prioritize the things that energize you.   This is a simple first step to be more productive,more efficient and more fulfilled.

The secret to happiness is not going to be found when you make more money, or have more things, it will be found when the majority of your day has more things that bring you happiness.

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