This is part of a series looking at microskills – changes that employees can make to help improve their health and life at work and at home, and employers can make to improve the workplace. The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first. Register your company now at www.employeerecommended.com.
What is your daily healthy happiness formula?
It's not uncommon for a person to wake up and mindlessly jump on the treadmill of life. They go through their morning routine, commute to work, complete their day's work, commute home, and go through their evening routine. They put more emphasis on getting through the day versus enjoying it.
If you can relate to this example, then you may agree that the primary goal is to avoid being late, conflict with others and other types of stress. This mindset takes energy and focus. Many who feel stuck on this treadmill are not happy or positive about their life or current circumstances. This can impact their mental health by feeling trapped and not experiencing happiness and physical health. They don't exercise and develop a poor diet that puts on excessive body fat.
Breaking this trend can start one thought at a time, by learning and practicing daily with the intention of creating positive, healthy happiness that can have a profound effect on your attitude and outlook on life. Harvard research reports that 70 to 80 per cent of all heart attacks could be avoided through improved lifestyle choices that can be reinforced through creation of positive emotions. As well, people who practice happiness have the potential to curb their risk of chronic disease, saving billions of health care dollars.
The purpose of this microskill is to adopt the act of creating positive actions that can contribute to happiness. This skill is grounded in the study of positive psychology that promotes the benefits of being mindful and focusing energy on what's going well in your life versus what you're not happy with.
Like a small plant, happiness requires attention, feeding and nurturing to grow. Happiness isn't a destination as much as a process of what you choose to focus on and do daily. Some people look for happiness in the wrong places, such as drugs or alcohol, but it's impossible to find healthy happiness under the influence of various substances.
Healthy happiness is a state of pleasant emotions that range from strong feelings of joy to inner peace that provides a feeling of contentment. Here are some tips to help you foster happiness in your day-to-day life.
Healthy happiness generator
Awareness – The first step is to become aware of your happiness baseline. One option is to take the happiness quick survey. Regardless of your score, it will be up to you whether you'd like to have more positive and happiness in your life. If so, proceed to the next step.
Accountability – Positive psychology suggests that we all can focus not just on what's not working in our life but what is working. Turning on the happiness generator requires the decision and motivation to experience more positive than negative events and emotions in your life. Through daily focus and awareness of where you're focusing your energy and attention you can, in time, add more positive.
Action – Practice turning on your happiness generator. It requires only awareness and accountability and the decision to focus more energy and intentions on what's good in your life. Here are a few exercises to consider:
· Write out your top three strengths, such as personality traits and skills, on a card and post them by your computer. Scan these before you check your e-mail. Small positive thinking can bring moments of good feelings and when that's done repeatedly it can have a positive impact on your overall feeling of happiness.
· Practice creating your beautiful week each Sunday evening before you go to bed. Book three positive focus periods that require a minimum of three hours a week, and ensure they fall on separate days. Pick activities that you enjoy (such as a recreational activity, spending time with family, helping your community, volunteering) and schedule these times as priorities. Of the 168 hours in a week, this three-hour commitment equals 1.8 per cent, so time is not an issue; it's making it a priority. It's not only the doing that feels positive, it's also thinking about the activity and the anticipation.
· Consider adding the following microskills: practice the attitude of gratitude; improve your emotional intelligence through mood management; and practice mindful hydration. Each can help you increase intention and meaningfulness each day to add positive feelings versus just riding the treadmill.
Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto. He is also the president of Howatt HR Consulting and founder of TalOp, in Kentville, N.S.
This series supports The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell's Employee Recommended Workplace Award.
This award recognizes employers who have the healthiest, most engaged and most productive employees. It promotes a two-way accountability model where an employer can support employees to have a positive workplace experience.
You can find all the stories in this series at this link:http://tgam.ca/workplaceaward