At our last BareAll event, Vanessa King from Action for Happiness talked about the proven implications of being happy at work and at home. We were so inspired by her session (and all the sessions) that we wanted to give you guys more of an in-depth overview of what went down and delve into the idea of being happy as a revolutionary act.

As Vanessa explained, taking happiness seriously can make a huge difference to individuals, businesses and societies. Harness the power of mindfulness, self-awareness, positive language and we can create great waves of change to make a difference.

Work it

What causes long-term sickness at work? Burnout and not paying attention to mental wellbeing and happiness. Conversely, a focus on being happy encourages a 12% increase in productivity. The implications of a happy workforce being good for business are too great to ignore. To demonstrate this, Vanessa asked the room to recall a time they felt most happy and productive at work. Was it when:

  • The organisation’s strategy was robust and clear?
  • Decision-making was efficient?
  • You were paid the most?
  • Communication within the business was good?
  • Your skills were utilised and appreciated?
  • You had freedom to initiate?
  • You felt you mattered and were recognized for your contribution?
  • You had good working relationships?

As you can imagine, more hands shot up for the second half of the indicators. We work most efficiently when we’re feeling content. Yes, we may churn out project after project if we’re under pressure, but we’re more likely to be innovative and striving for success when we feel respected and valued.

Personal satisfaction guaranteed

Reflect on the past 24 hours, what did you enjoy? What were you grateful for? Write down three things. Remember how you felt then and how they make you feel now. After a few minutes Vanessa asked us how we felt. Lighter and more relaxed was the majority answer. Recalling things that are good in our lives induces a ‘pleasant emotional state’ – it’s practicing how to be happy!

Most of us fixate on negative feelings and situations, seeing them as things that need to be resolved. But it’s important to also focus on positive emotions, they’re not ‘just feelings’ – they have real psychological impact. In this relaxed mode you can see more sides to a story, be more flexible, be open to new ideas and be calmer when decision-making. Gratitude journaling is a practice proven to affect depression and anxiety.

Pay it Forward

Did you know that positivity ripples out to 3 degrees of separation – and back again? You can actually influence your society with your happy thoughts! Positivity and looking after your mental wellbeing promotes pro-social behaviour: happier people are involved in less road traffic accidents and engage in less risky behaviours, which is good for all of us.

The second part of the gratitude experiment was to share our ‘3 good things’ list with our neighbour. As listeners we were instructed to be active in our responses – acknowledge, process and ask questions to learn more. Sharing our positive experiences solidified them, put them out into the world. And by being actively engaged by our neighbours we felt heard and that never fails to make a human being feel connected, which, as social beings, is something we all strive for.

All in the mind

Mindfulness and positive thinking are part of today’s zeitgeist and it can be easy to dismiss this new direction as just a fad, but as Vanessa highlighted, the implications of retraining your brain to be more optimistic are quantifiable. The psychology of positivity is a real science and implementing its findings can be the ‘mechanisms of change’ – for you, for your business and for our wider society.

For more information on how to start making a difference, visit Action for Happiness’ website, there are loads of great tips on taking small steps to make a big difference.