As we continue our look at happiness, today I would like to share some strategies for more happiness at work. We spend most of our time at work so bringing our happiness game there not only enhances our work life but spills over to family life after work.
Remember happiness is a choice, a mindset and the things that make you happy are unique to you. Your happiness level affects how you handle stress, job satisfaction, job performance, your productivity, your motivation and if you are a manager it affects the way you lead your team.
Your belief in another’s potential or lack of it brings that to reality. This is known as Pygmalion Theory – a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your employees are part of your experience so therefore they will act the way you expect them to act. This happens whether you communicate it or not.
Robert Ronsenthal conducted an experiment in primary schools where he gave intelligence tests to children. He told the teachers Suzy, Mary and Jim had above average intelligence. The teachers were told not to tell them or treat them differently (they were observed to ensure they did not). At the end of the year when Suzy, Mary and Jim were tested again their results were off the charts.
The way you view your employees potential matters, because this affects the way you treat them. The way you treat them depends on your level of happiness. Don’t forget the way you perceive your reality has a direct impact on your results. Do you encourage or belittle, intimidate or support, smile or scowl? Each elicits a chemical reaction in the body(for you and for them) which affects our creativity, levels of energy and physical health. The stress hormone cortisol has the opposite reaction to that of dopamine and serotonin.
Cortisol and adrenaline pump through our veins when the flight or fight response is triggered. This has been our safety net since the beginning to time as it prepares us to fight or run away so we can live another day. We become singularly focused on one goal, staying alive. When you are in fight or flight mode your digestive tract shuts down, your immune system shuts down, your blood thickens, your heart beats faster, you develop tunnel vision and your body floods your system with cortisol and adrenaline.
In most offices there is no outlet for releasing this response in the body (exercise and meditation helps), research has shown these teams are less creative, miss opportunities, take more time off sick, have more health issues and are only there for the money.
Our brains function at its best on positive emotions – the serotonin and the dopamine. Happy employees are more creative, are poised to see opportunities, are healthier which means lower absenteeism and lower health costs and work better as a team.
You get what you expect. Your interpretation of reality influences the way you experience it. Research has shown when you are happier, you are motivated, smarter, more creative, innovative and more successful. Your mindset not only changes your experience but it changes the results.
The main reason for this is something called Expectancy Theory – the reason for the placebo effect. There are so many studies which prove this I will quote 2 here. First one – Researchers found volunteers who were severely allergic to poison ivy. They then told them they were injecting them with poison ivy but they didn’t, but the subjects responded as if it was poison ivy. Then they injected them with poison ivy but said it was something else and only 1% had the normal poison ivy response. Second one – Researchers blind folded wine tasters and asked them for feedback on the cheap wine (but it really was the expensive one) and they all experienced the wine as cheap. You guessed it, they then told them to rate the expensive wine, but told them it was cheap and they all experienced the expensive wine as cheap. YOUR MINDSET CHANGES YOUR RESULTS.
What you expect from your manager, work environment, relationship, children etc. is what you will experience. Doesn’t that excite you? I have come across numerous examples of employees joining a new department with a manager who has a reputation of a tyrant, but they go in with a different expectation and that colours their experience. When I reflect on the relationships in my life I see the patterns – people behave exactly the way I expect them to behave. You want to change your experience ? Change your expectations.
You have a choice – no matter what you do – do I have a job or a calling? Do I approach what I do as drudgery or am I making a contribution? Do I view my manager as an ogre or an ally? Are my co-workers Judases or are they supportive team players?
You get to choose.