Blog Post: What Do You Mean By ‘Happy’?

With all due respect to my paternal grandfather, who died nearly a decade ago, he would be shaking his head at this discussion. He would question why we, as a society, are putting so much effort and care into the notion of happiness. Not only does the phrase Gross National Happiness exist in today’s lexicon, countries are rated and ranked based upon it.

The link for today’s posting came from The Atlantic, one of my favorite publications. It the article, the base argument against happiness is we learn and grow more from struggle and defeat. The writer even references a Nazi concentration camp survivor. That is a struggle I will (hopefully) never know. While that story provides a powerful support to the thesis, and makes for better reading, it is not really valid for today’s work culture.

This is not an argument for doing whatever makes you happy in life. Common sense must, at some point, enter the conversation. We cannot quit a job because it doesn’t “make us happy”. Studies surrounding the divorce rate show we aren’t really any happier because of the casual approach to nuptial vows.

I believe the term “happiness” needs a bit of a makeover.

When product development gurus like Seth Godin and Jeff Sutherland reference happiness, there are really referring to engagement. We must regularly talk to each other in the work place to find out how happy we are with how things are going. Creating a “safe” environment for sharing of constructive comments on productivity, culture and direction of the company result in a bevy of positive results. Tops amongst them are a more engaged and productive work force. A quick view of many in the list of top places to work tell me some realize the power in their people. Is your business one of them?

Make sense? Sure. Adoption is a different story. Next time the question of how happy you are enters your gray matter, stop and rephrase:

“How engaged am I in my life?”

Engaging in the passions of your family’s life helps insert you more into the rearing of your children and the development of your marriage. Engaging in the core values of your company results in new products being development, business processes evolving and growth of engagement by your co-workers (maybe even your boss). I could keep going, but you get the drift. 

One thing I happily agree with the writer of this article is on purpose. We must have a purpose that focuses not on ourselves, but those around us. Give yourself the purpose of engagement instead of disconnection and you will see the world change beneath your feet.

Blog Post: What Do You Mean By ‘Happy’?


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