I was at the beach in the South of France in June when suddenly a severe pain in the lower back got me. I was diagnosed with a case of three severe slip discs
and the immediate option was an operation to put two Titanium nails along my spine – which I refused. The next option was to be on a heavy dose of pain killers
– which I also refused. The last option was diligent physiotherapy every day and meditation to reduce the pain – which is the path I adopted.So during
the past three months, as I was grounded in Prague, I could not travel with Jacqueline and Virat to Ethiopia or with Šimon Pánek to Afghanistan but
I had a lot of physiotherapy, meditated a lot and had lots of time to myself so I am going to share with you some of the research that I have found working
successfully in my case in the hope that some of you may find it useful too. :-)
Research on positive psychology conducted by Shawn Achor & Dan Gilbert at Harvard, Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania and others elsewhere,
came to the following conclusions:
1. Our usual thinking is “if I achieve success, I will be Happy” or “ if I get that promotion, I will be Happy” or “if I get to marry a particular person of my dreams,
I will be Happy.” Firstly, Happiness is a path and not a destination and the research shows that money, success, trophy husband or wife provide momentary joy, but
do not have a lasting effect on the level of Happiness of any individual over the slightly longer period. Secondly, and equally importantly, the other
thing that conditional happiness does is tells us that we are not happy as we are ( which is not a true statement). Research also showed that we have spent a lifetime
convincing ourselves that we are unhappy and setting targets of conditional Happiness. We are naturally hard wired for Happiness and can easily link into this
Hardwired Happiness, if we decide to.
2. Happiness can be determined by the external environment of individuals by no more than 10-15% and 85-90% is internal to the person. We all have
a genetic set point and we return to this set point over time irrespective of the events in our life. Events in our life remain the same – our reaction to those events and to
what is happening around us determines our level of Happiness.
3. “Money can buy happiness.” - But only if used for others or philnanthropic purposes. Research showed that teams that asked its members to spend money
on their team members became stronger and winning teams and people who spent money not on themselves were much happier than those who spent
the same money on themselves.
4. Leading a meaningful life with a higher purpose (beyond self) leads to happiness. People who had a purpose in Life were substantially
Happier than those who did not.
5. Leading an engaged life “In the flow” where we really enjoy doing whatever we do most of the time. People who really enjoyed what they did and did it passionately
were much Happier than those who were just doing something to make a living or even made a lot of money but did not really enjoy it. As Mahatma Gandhi said:
“HAPPINESS is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in Harmony.”
The good news is that when we are Happy Productivity goes up by up to over 50% and Creativity by over 300%. It is a state which we call “in the zone” or “in the flow”.
I can only imagine what happens to profitability when that happens on an ongoing basis. :-)There is clear evidence in the research that instead of thinking we
will be Happy when we are successful, if we make ourselves Happy – we will most likely be successful.Now that is great research but how can we use it to make ourselves Happy.
The other good news is that Happiness is a skill that can be learnt just like football or piano or golf and so this set point for each individual can
be moved upwards with simple practice. :-)
RECIPE FOR EVERYDAY HAPPINESS:
The research at Harvard lays out a recipe for everyday Happiness which should not take
more than 30 min everyday:
1. Be grateful for 3 things in our life every day.
2. Exercise for at least 10-15 minutes.
3. Meditate for at least 2-5 minutes.
4. Write a positive message to someone (we don‘t necessarily have to know this person)
5. Start to journal our most positive experience over the past 24 hours.
The last piece of good news that comes from research is that if there is anything we do for 21 days, it becomes a temporary habit. If we continue to do it for 60 days
it becomes a semi-permanent habit and if we continue for 180 days, it becomes a permanent habit or second nature and could even become our attitude. :-)
Now trying to get value for money, I would say 30-90 hours of our time for a lifetime of Happiness, much higher Creativity, Productivity and all the other ripple
effects that would come with it may not be such a bad deal, especially when it is capable of increasing our longevity by 10 – 20 years and keeps us younger than our
age all through those years. :-)
Also, when we look for gratitude every day, exercise & meditate every day, look for positive messages and journal those positive messages, we become
much more compassionate people and because the Human brain is a single processor, it eliminates or takes the place of negative thoughts as a habit
and makes us more at peace with ourselves - as the Dalai Lama said: “If I am more compassionate, I am the one who benefits the most with inner
And “BEING HAPPY” could become our second nature irrespective of the happenings in the World around us.
At a deeper level we need to:
1. Re-craft our life to use our strengths so that we are “in the flow”as much time as possible. In other words we should do more of the
things we are passionate about. :-)
2. Use our strengths for something bigger than ourselves – in other words “find a higher purpose in life” and accept vulnerability
instead of pretending to be who we are not. :-)
Abraham Lincoln once said: “People are as HAPPY as they make up their minds to be.”
And now so many years later there is real research on positive psychology from Harvard and other universities done on successful
outliers that actually proves that Abraham Lincoln knew then what we know today - scientifically.
Can you imagine what could happen if we all brought this to our companies and further still to our families, our children and even to our
schooling system where not just the present but the future generations would grow up happier and lead much happier lives. Research shows
that “happier people are more responsible, more ethical and more morally sound as well as mentally & spiritually more affluent”.
So finally, we as Human beings have one thing , just one thing, TO BE on our agenda besides all the to do lists. If the to do lists were
so important, we would probably be called Human doings and not Human Beings.