Executive coach and author, Kate Tojeiro, explains why many business owners would benefit from finding what makes them happy, in order to fuel greater success at work.
The definition of happiness – like success or desire – is different for different people. For some it’s bringing in a big deal, for some it’s a perfectly executed project, a day with no dramas, thanks from a boss, colleague or customer or a laugh with a teammate – it may even be when someone brings in cake! These particular options are not always possible but there are numerous ways to find a bit more ‘happy’ at work especially when the rewards can be brilliant at many levels.
The benefits to finding your own moments of happiness are immense even if the happy moment is a tiny, tiny one in a hectic day. Whilst neuroscience has yet to discover exactly what happens when we are happy, what it does know is that the level of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain play a big role in mood. Endorphins are released along with raised levels of serotonin and dopamine (happy hormones) when we feel good, or at the very least, better which is generally good for us and also those around us too and everyone wins. Health is known to improve, and productivity too.
When we talk about happy, it’s all about ‘being’ happy as opposed to ‘doing’ happy, so whilst our professional daily goings on might stem from an endless ‘to do’ list, to find a little more happy in our day, you’ll need to work on your ‘to be’ list too.
Finding happiness on the inside will fuel what you are doing on the outside especially at work, after all, we spend a long time at work.
1. ‘A smile begets a smile’ – not always, but often
Interestingly, kids smile on average about 400 times a day and a ‘happy’ grown up about 40 to 50 times a day, whereas the average person smiles about 20 times per day. This means that quite a lot of us aren’t smiling nearly enough, which is a sad fact particularly when smiling has such a positive, nurturing effect on our health, happiness and productivity.
Who haven’t you smiled at recently?
2. Remind yourself – what makes you happy? The little things
That may sound like a daft tip but in our increasingly packed days sometimes we forget or plain don’t make time for the things that make us feel good.
Write down six little things that make you happy that you can do during your working day; e.g. the perfect cappuccino, a creative discussion with a colleague, a cup of tea and a chat, a beautiful view, meeting someone new…..
Then think about when you can factor them into your day.
3. Go outside
Making time to go outside delivers a huge and perhaps unexpected advantage to improved happiness. Spending just 20 minutes outside every day (preferably in good weather) not only boosts our mood but broadens our thinking and working memory.
Studies have shown that being outside can reduce our stress. Our senses are indulged; what we can see, hear, feel, smell and taste and this in turn impacts our bodies by giving our nervous, endocrine, and immune systems a boost.
No, I don’t mean sleep at work, that could cause a whole lot of trouble for us all!
As you’ll no doubt be aware sleep helps our bodies to recover and repair from our daily activities. Sleep boosts our immune system, our ability to focus but also it is important for our happiness.
Negative experience gets processed by the amygdala, the ‘fight/ flight’ part of the brain, positive and negative memories get processed by the hippocampus. A lack of sleep hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala (so that we can deal with emergencies and survival even if we’re exhausted) meaning that sleep-deprived people typically fail to recall the positive happy memories and yet recall the gloomy ones with ease. Hence, if we’re suffering from a lack of sleep we’re much more likely to focus upon the negative activity going on at work rather than the positive!
5. Pause and just be
Being happy means just that and ‘just being’ is a form of mindfulness, becoming more present and in the here and now.
Find a nice space for you (outside is good!) and focus on your breathing, the in and out of your breath, your mind will wander, let it, and then bring it back to the present and the in and out of your breath. Just 120 seconds will make a difference – have a go. It will give you sharpened focus and enable you to make better decisions.
Abraham Lincoln said, ‘most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be’ .
I think he’s right.
And one of my favourites, ‘a smile confuses an approaching frown’. Hurrah to that!
Have a happy and productive day!
Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Coach and author of new book: The Art of Possible, new habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action, out now. Read Kate’s leadership blog here.