International Day of Happiness is 20th March Annually

In April 2012, the United Nations held its first conference on happiness and well-being in New York City.   The conference introduced the concept of “Gross National Happiness” which I have to say made me very …Happy!

One of the announcements made was there will be an International Day of Happiness on 20th March each year.

I am a big believer in happiness, and the benefits happiness can bring.  I have had many discussions with peers and colleagues and I believe I may be in the minority.  Not that many people disagree that happiness is a good state in which to be; mostly they just think it’s unrealistic.  Certainly, in the workplace, many people think it’s not even a consideration. I hope that the annual International Day Of Happiness will change this for good.

Happiness is An Inside Job

Now I know that employers and leaders cannot be responsible for employees’ happiness.  Happiness is an inside job.  If any of you has been in a relationship with the intention of “making someone happy” and that person is not intrinsically happy, you know how impossible it is.

The truth is, people, choose to be happy or not.  Self-aware people understand that external “things” may help you get in touch with happy feelings but rarely do they last.  Really happy people understand that due to the temporary nature of anything in the world, happiness is an internal state largely consisting of acceptance, interpretation and choice.

As a Leader, all you can do is increase the odds of people being happy

As you can’t control how people choose to feel, act and think; all you can do is create the right environment which increases the odds for people to be happy.   You might be asking why on earth you should even consider taking such steps when you are financially strapped, your employees are revolting and daily your problems seem to be increasing.  Haven’t you had enough on your plate? And why help people to be happy when there is no guarantee of success?

With the right direction, the benefits of people being happy at work are: They

  • get more work done
  • are more committed to the task and the company
  • will be physically, mentally and emotionally more healthy
  • will infect your customers with their happiness
  • have more productive relationships with other employees
  • have fewer conflicts
  • be more resilient

Develop a Happiness Quadrant

If any of you are battling with poor employee feedback, performance issues, high absence rates, conflicts and complaints, then you might want to take notice of the findings which prompted the International Day of Happiness and take some positive measures to change things.

Alright, I know if you go along to the board meeting and suggest a “happiness quadrant” your fellow board members might be checking your temperature and looking for signs of addiction, but the following suggestions can be combined with your organisational development or strategic activities.

Create respect and admiration at the organisation’s identity level

  • Commit and demonstrate company values
  • Develop and maintain a meaningful purpose
  • Identify and communicate a worthy contribution

Celebrate and engage employees and teams

  • Monitor and put in place measures to help people meet 4 basic needs, feeling valued, safe, in control and being a contributor
  • Help people take responsibility and gain autonomy to deliver their contribution
  • Celebrate success, internally and externally
  • Tell great and meaningful organisational  and individual stories which engage emotions

 Develop a Community Culture

  • Have a defined social structure – even if it’s just the annual Christmas party
  • Accept that people aren’t perfect, create environments where people can let off steam, solve problems, or deal with frustrations and fears – safely
  • Develop a sensible work/life balance
  • Develop an ethos of internal as well as external customer service.
  • Encourage and allow people to care about each other

 Create a Learning Ethos

  • Help employees gain mastery and transferable skills
  • Introduce learning which helps people understand themselves and engenders personal growth
  • Turn mistakes into learning opportunities
  • Help people to learn and take responsibility for their well being, whether physical, emotional or mental

I know some people will think putting happiness on the agenda is not a strategic move.  My challenge for those people would be my favourite mantra “Would you rather be right or happy?”  So go on I urge you to choose “happy” and celebrate the International Day of Happiness on 20th March, with some strategic thinking about creating a happy environment at work.

In the spirit of the International Day of Happiness,  I hope this article made you smile as well as gave some ideas about creating a happier culture at work.

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I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.

I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.