This is such a fundamental question that even British politicians are taking an interest. Our UK prime minister recently put forward a proposal to incorporate questions on wellbeing into the Office for National Statistic's quarterly national citizen's survey.
With politicians in many countries now talking about national wellbeing, a ‘happiness agenda' is emerging. But I wonder how such a measurement can help enhance wellbeing within a workforce, particularly during such a tough economic climate.
The question is: how can industry get to the very heart of its workforce? (and I use the word ‘heart' on purpose). Many people work because they have to but not many go to work because they just love what they do. In the words of the poet Khalil Gibran, ‘work is love made visible' and if only this could become the mantra on every office door, no doubt performance and productivity would increase 100 per cent.
When you care for those in your family, they feel loved, reassured and secure. So why can't it be the same within a company, which is also a family? Of course, I know this is not easy, particularly at times of restructuring but, nevertheless, the challenge is upon everyone to try to introduce a feeling of community into their workplace.
When you feel happy, your body chemistry acts in ways that make you feel better able to cope with pain and stress and to ward off illness. A colleague of mine, John Cable, is a comedian. Every week he goes to his local hospital where he makes people smile and laugh. The medical team say his visits are eagerly anticipated by both patients and staff, who say he makes their world look brighter. It is all about feeling better in oneself and having an optimistic outlook.
We all know of those who are faced with adversity or sickness, unemployment or just bad luck. For them, it is a major challenge to keep optimistic and cheerful and it may well be that they need an external catalyst to help them do so. Do you think that maybe you could be that catalyst? Could you help them to move their mind from a place where it really doesn't want to be?
The effects of happiness on your health are enormous and when you smile you certainly draw people to you rather than push them away. The plain fact is that if you are happy, you are likely to live a longer and more satisfying life.
So here are eight steps to feeling happy:
1. Use self-talk: When you have negative thoughts, talk to yourself as to how you could re-frame them into a positive emotion. Think of that which you do have, not the things you have not.
2. Help others: Like my friend John, give of your time to others less fortunate than yourself and by so doing, you give additional meaning to your own life.
3. Enjoy your environment: Instead of walking around with your eyes closed, look at the natural beauty there is all around you.
4. Talk to others: Indulge in conversation in a sincere and genuine way. By listening to others you will gain enormously.
5. Don't sit around: At the end of the day, don't just watch TV. Instead, spend time playing with the children, or go for a walk with your spouse or friend.
6. Exercise or play some sport: A sure way to beat sadness and depression is to stretch your body physically, because your mind also benefits at the same time. Body and mind go together. Usually when one is healthy, then the other also tends to be so. There is chemistry in both and they interact to an extraordinary degree.
7. Having the right attitude: If you only see doom and gloom, that is what there will be. But if you see the positive aspects of what is going on in your life and build on these, then your whole persona can change overnight.
8.Enjoy a funny movie: Just sit and watch a film with a friend or a child and enjoy a good laugh. Laughter is so good that it will make you feel instantly better.
The author is a BBC guest broadcaster and motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies - www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk
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