The Happiness Horizon
Do happy employees make better employees? Can we be unhappy and perform? Do you have a positive or negative view of the world?
A good few questions and useful for you to try to answer.
Of course we all know people who are continually happy, enthusiastic and positive no matter what their circumstances. They smile at adversity and shrug off negativity with annoying consistency and see the good in everything they see and do.
We also know people who, no matter how great their situation or perceived success, have the ability to focus on the negative side of a situation or turn success into failure. They downplay positive experiences and revel in their own and other peoples’ misfortunes. They are just plain miserable but some people are happy being unhappy, right?
For those of you who have attended our Mind Skills sessions you will immediately recognise the Chimp and the Human in these scenarios!
It’s very easy to get involved with the pessimists around us, to criticise, point out others weaknesses, whinge about coaches and politicians and service in shops or be continually looking for the next big thing that is going to make us happy. In reality, even if we got the ‘next big thing’ it would only account for a very small proportion of our happiness. The rest is down to us and how we choose to live life.
So why do people behave in either of these ways? As usual with the way our mind is programmed it’s a mixture of learned behaviour, upbringing and the people we associate with. All of which colours our interpretation of the situation and the world around us.
But how does it affect our performance? Well if we continually focus on the negative aspects then we can expect to be disappointed with our performance, dislike aspects of training and generally not enjoy what we are doing. In other words, we are continually beating ourselves up! Take a normal day in the office or factory and how you perceive the work, your colleagues, your boss the weather and what others are saying about it! Positive, negative or logically neutral?
By changing our view of our circumstances and thoughts we can start to re programme our minds and look at our experiences from a different perspective.
Most of us have been brought up to believe that if we are successful at whatever we chose to do then we will be happy. Thinking in this way results in a focus on the next exam result/better job/bigger house/new car/next stage in our lives which, the nearer we get to it the further away the happiness horizon gets!
There is evidence that if we can turn this the approach on its head and focus on being happy, in a ‘good place’ and comfortable with ourselves it will allow us to reach our full potential and perform as we would like to. Attaining great performances then becomes part of a process of learning, practice and challenge and repetition whilst enjoying being ourselves.
So, if we want to make a change we need a plan. Forcing ourselves to ‘think positive’ or be optimistic all the time just won’t work as our minds are much cleverer than we give them credit for and are, in part designed to have a certain amount of scepticism and doubt to give us security, keep us safe from harm and look after our troop.
Of course if there is something that really is bothering you and making you miserable and unhappy then you need to do something about it. After all stress and worry is our minds way of telling us to DO SOMETHING so take care of that aspect if it arises.
So if we accept that we would like to change our thought processes we can employ some mechanisms which divert our (or our Chimps) negative thinking to a more helpful outlook.
Brining about a change in habits takes some time and effort so here is a plan you can use to modify your mindset from unhelpful to helpful over the next 21 days;
Journaling – write down your thoughts and feelings every day
Gratitude – note 3 things that you are grateful for
Thank someone – for something they have done for you or someone else. (You could also try writing something positive on social media!)
Random Act of Kindness – as it says, do something good for someone.
Reflection – 5 minutes at the end of each day where you reflect on the day and draw a line under the days activities and thoughts. Use perspective and kindness to yourself.
Exercise – of course we are all doing what we need to!
You could let me know how you get on at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally it could be said that the outcome for positive and negative people is the same – positive people just have a better time getting there!
Enjoy your day