What is happiness?
The happiness concept has been around for the last 30 years. It’s not a ‘phase’; it’s here to stay, and will in future gain more and more momentum. Right now, happiness has already infiltrated psychology, medicine, and education, and it’s starting to gain traction in business and government. Danish philosopher Knud Ejler Løgstrup says that, as a leader, you have an ethical obligation to treat those around you in such a way that it increases their level of happiness. You may have never considered that, as part of your leadership role, you need to ensure that your employees are happy.
So, what is happiness? Is it a frivolous topic to align with leadership, organisations, or politics?
Most leaders feel that happiness doesn’t belong in the workplace, and certainly not in politics. Happiness is everyone’s own personal affair, isn’t it? And it’s up to everyone to work on their happiness levels in their own time. Well, it doesn’t quite work like that, because people can’t compartmentalise their lives into these various domains. Instead, they all interlink with each other. Think about it this way, you can’t be happy at work and unhappy in your personal life, as the one spills over into the other.
The simplest definition of happiness is to experience frequent positive emotions, combined with a sense that, overall, life is satisfactory and fulfilling. It might seem like a broad definition, but to ensure that employees experience mostly positive emotions at work, and are generally satisfied and fulfilled by their work, suddenly doesn’t sound so easy anymore. Of course, the positive benefits happiness brings to the workplace are immense: increased productivity, creativity, learning, resilience, and better decision- making. Also, it reduces absenteeism, stress, depression, and disengagement. These can all severely impact the bottom line, teamwork, and culture.
Alexander Kjerulf, one of the world’s leading experts on happiness at work said that “happiness is not only an integral part of leading, but should be the ultimate goal of leadership.”
How much do you make happiness a critical part of your leadership role?
“True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers; not the enrichment of the leaders.” – Robert Townsend, US business executive.