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This is part of a series looking at micro skills – changes that employees can make to 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.

Read about the 2017 winners of the award at tgam.ca/workplaceaward.

Register your company for 2018 at www.employeerecommended.com.

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On a scale of one (low) to 10 (high), how happy are you on a typical day?

Martin Seligman, a world expert in positive psychology, suggested that happy people demonstrated themselves as being satisfied, upbeat and with good temperament. His research found that happiness has three dimensions: pleasant, good and meaningful life.

In 2014, The Globe and Howatt HR launched the Your Life at Work Survey that's still online today and is a tool that measures individuals' quality of work life. To launch this study, we ran articles on topics such happiness that predicted a person's mental health. We included a short risk survey on several topics.

For the happiness survey, there were 1,239 participants. Here are some of the findings from this survey:

-The average score was 20 out of 30, which falls in the "You're OK – But OK is not happy" range. Happiness requires intention and outcomes around the three dimensions that Mr. Seligman suggested.

- 31 per cent of respondents fell in the "Above" range; 33 per cent in the "You're happy" range; and 36 per cent fell in "Sorry – You're not happy."

- The top three items with the highest score from 1 to 5 were: 3.5/5 "I am a happy person"; 3.4/5 "I get up every day with a purpose"; 3.3/5 "Overall, my life is what I want it to be."

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This survey is meant to educate, not diagnose, to help bring awareness to our role in our own happiness and indicate that it's not passive. It's dynamic, meaning we play an important role in creating our own happiness and well-being.

Awareness

Leadimg a happy life requires awareness of what you're doing daily that promotes a mental state of well-being and contentment. To find out your happiness baseline, complete the Happiness IQ Quick Survey. You can then compare your score to the above benchmarks.

Accountability

Research suggests that happiness is a set of skills we can learn through practice. Fifty per cent is genetic, 10 per cent is based on the environment; and 40 per cent is a result of what we do.

One key takeaway from research is that our happiness is impacted much more by our daily actions than our environment. Waiting around for circumstances or for others to make you happy may be a disappointing proposition. It appears that each of us has the capability to positively impact our own happiness by our decisions and actions.

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However, if we don't have the knowledge or skills, we can feel trapped and hopeless. The good news is that there's ample positive psychology research to suggest that people can get off the treadmill of life and learn the skills to discover and add more happiness to their lives.

Action

Happiness has a positive impact on our mental health and overall well-being, both psychologically and physically. Happy people increase their opportunity to live longer, healthier lives.

Positive relationship count – Being around people who are safe, positive and care about you unconditionally supports your happiness. We may not be able to pick our parents, siblings or family; however, we can pick the people we want to socialize with and be our life partners. Outside of your family, how many people in your life positively impact you? Research suggests that people who have one or more close friends are on average happier because these relationships allow for self-disclosure and play a role in unloading stress. The key point is that we can pay attention to how the relationships in our life are supporting our happiness. Adding one positive relationship to your life can have a major impact on your happiness.

Connection with community – Life moves fast and many of us can get caught in a cycle of moving from A to B. A is work and B is home. Fitting in much more can seem impossible because of the mental objections we create, such as time, energy and motivation. Life moves fast and if we're not as happy as we want to be there's value in slowing down and evaluating your sense of connection to your community. Research found that people who felt they were positively connected and interacted with their neighbourhood social networks had a significant impact on quality of life and well-being.

· Focus on strengths first – The drive to perfection is wearing down many of us. When we hyper-focus on our flaws they drain energy and put our focus on the negative. Focus on your strengths first, such as kindness and willingness to help others. Pick one or two traits that are your strengths. At the end of the week, take a moment to reflect and write down how your strengths helped you feel and what you have learned. Research suggests that doing this activity created a happiness boost lasting up to six months.

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Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto and creator of an online Pathway to Coping course offered through the University of New Brunswick.

Register today for the 2018 Employee Recommended Workplace Award at www.employeerecommended.com

Read more columns like this, and read about the winners and finalists of the 2017 Employee Recommended Workplace Award at tgam.ca/workplaceaward

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