Project Happiness

Project Happiness

Project Happiness – Cleaning up the fishponds of work place teams

I was on my way to a conference in a taxi on Guernsey. The taxi driver asked me what the conference was about. So I told him about The Dandelion Project and Thrive 2020 on Guernsey.

The Dandelion Project has a single and clear mission; to make Guernsey the best place to live on earth by 2020. ‘Thrive 2020 conference is about making Guernsey the happiest place in the world to live’, I said. ‘We used to be the happiest place in the world’, he said. ‘There was a questionnaire years ago and Guernsey was the best place to live to be happy’.

Of course, I was intrigued. ‘What happened?’ I asked. ‘Government’, he replied. Ah! In that one word all was clear to me. Most human beings believe happiness comes from outside of them; we can only be happy if we have enough money, a bigger house, a new car, a job that inspires us and a government that provides all these things! As John Milton wrote in paradise Lost ‘The Mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.’

Shocking statistics currently show that 1 in 4 of us have mental health issues. Ruby Wax quips, ‘Look at your 3 best friends, if they are ok, it must be you!’ Mental health issues touch all of us. It is not ‘others’. It is you. It is us. How often do you experience mood disorders; attention deficit; sleep deprivation; behaviour lapses? All these symptoms can be a sign of a mental illness. The fact you experience these things doesn’t mean you need a diagnosis. It just means we all experience a degree of mental ‘dis – ease’ from time to time.

We spend time focussing on what is wrong and not on what is already right! Where our mind goes our energy flows and we can create more of what is wrong. We believe that happiness follows success. If we work hard at being successful we will be happy when success comes. In fact as science now shows, it is the other way round. Happiness makes us more successful. (The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor).

Employers have a part to play in the happiness of their employees. They have a responsibility to look after the mental health of their colleagues. By 2020 mental ill health will be the number 1 cause of sickness absence from work. There is no health without mental health. So as employers we have a duty of care to support our teams. In 2013 -2014 there were 487,000 cases of work related stress (WRS) in the UK. 11.3 million days have been lost in this time. Each case of WRS is on average 23 days out of the business. The stigma of the illness often remains when someone returns to work.

Employers can create the environment where people can thrive, rather than merely survive. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure and prevention is better, easier and more efficient than a cure. It is time to clean up the fishponds of our workplace teams.

How can we take ideas from Positive Psychology (the science of happiness Shawn Achor) and apply them to the workplace and so to our everyday lives?

The Thrive 2020 conference in Guernsey was all about how we can do this.

How can we keep our locus of control; how can we look at what is strong and not what is wrong; how can we view people not as problems but as potential waiting to unfold? It starts with each individual realising that within them is their ’magnificent self’ and appreciating there is a spark of greatness in everyone. We can bounce back from challenges and be better than we were before. We are all resilient if we believe we are. Happiness is the start of our journey and not the destination.

By focussing on developing our 5R’s:

Resilience, Robustness, Reflectiveness, Resourcefulness and Responsibility

we can improve our own mental health and that of those around us because behaviour breeds behaviour.

The behaviour of management is vital; we must lead by example and become role models of the happiness advantage. To get started, here are 5 tips to improve your own sense of well-being. Do them every day for 21 days and notice the difference in your sense of well- being.

1) Power Pose for 2 minutes a day – ‘Wonder woman Pose’ hands on hips, head up and feet apart

2) List your Gratitudes each day

3) Practice Mindfulness for 5 minutes each day

4) Carry out random acts of Kindness – compliment someone, praise someone, buy someone a coffee

5) Move! – get some exercise. Even a 10 minute walk a day is approximately 50 hours of exercise a year.

This blog post was written by our fantastic coach and trainer, Shona McFarlane