Over the last seven days I’ve been compiling a list of 7 Steps To Sustainable Smiles, honing in on happiness through a business-minded lens and sprinkling it with Buddhist beliefs.
I’ve talked through the very basics of how to create a happiness strategy and what’s required to get your plan into action.
And today, I’ll be closing it all off with head pats and thumbs ups.
Step 7 – Celebrating Happiness
Over the last ten or perhaps even twenty years, businesses worldwide have seen a huge shift away from traditional autocratic, disciplinary environments towards much more purpose-driven and recognition-based cultures.
For the smallest achievements to the greatest, rewards are now readily available.
It comes as a result of our growing understanding of the human psyche; day by day we’re gaining more and more clarity on what drives our thoughts and behaviours.
But for now, there’s no need to delve into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s theory of motivation or Pavlov’s experiment on conditioning the mind to acknowledge that recognition, in any form, is a proverbial pat on the head.
It may be kind words from a colleague, a glowing appraisal from your manager, an unexpected compliment about your skills – or, of course, a big fat hefty Christmas bonus.
Whatever form it takes, recognition at work enhances job satisfaction and creates a sense of pride, often spurring on productivity and achieving even greater things for both the individual and for the business.
Now let’s take that idea and apply it to achieving long-lasting happiness…
So you’ve created your Happiness Strategy, you have a list of conditions you can create and activities you can do to move closer towards your ambition.
And you’re doing it – the good stuff.
Every single day you’re doing more and more and more. You’re putting in the effort and you’re making the right choices. You’re training the brain, conditioning the mind and changing your behaviours.
But something, for some reason, doesn’t feel right.
Maybe you were expecting instant results and you were wanting to feel euphoric from the moment you wake up in the morning until the moment you go to sleep. Maybe you were hoping for breakthroughs and AHA! moments and Eurekas!.
It’s almost as though the changes you’re making as so small and so slow and so subtle that they’re not really changes at all. You wanted a happiness transformation and you’re just not seeing the results.
When we reach a stage where thoughts of doubt are prominent, alarm bells should start to ring.
We’re giving our critic – the nagging wife of our mind, everything she needs to moan, groan and be miserable – and she’ll natter on negatively forever if we let her.
And I know this because, even after spending over a year fully dedicated to ‘doing good stuff to be a better me’, I can still often hear her whiny voice.
Sometimes I set my standards and aspirations so high that ‘trying’ and ‘almost there’ isn’t good enough. Sometimes I fall backwards, or make bad choices or mess things up. And sometimes I just don’t have the energy to act like I’m some sort of Scouse Tony Robbins every day.
But the reality is that criticism is sabotage and unless we pause to reflect and recognise progress of any kind, our pursuit of happiness can start to become less like a race track and more like an obstacle course.
Happiness should be celebrated.
And so I’m learning (present tense) to celebrate mine; to say “well done”, give myself a pat on the head and to realise that, at the end of the day, the fact we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.