Happiness in the Workplace – To Create An Epidemic Of Happiness

“You cannot change your family, your work or the events of your life. You can’t even change yourself too much. But you can learn to breathe correctly”. This is what the Guru, Sadhu mama says to the burnt out executive Arvind, who goes on a retreat in the Vindhyas to go through a 7 point programme, called ‘The Happiness Quotient’

‘Happy’ is a word derived from ‘happ’ meaning luck or chance. Most of us believe that happiness is a mysterious feeling that comes without reason, leaving as inexplicably as it arrived. Happiness is, in fact, living with a sense of fulfillment and peace. It is a belief in the fundamental goodness of people, in the value of compassion, a policy of kindness, and a sense of unity among all living beings. All beings seek happiness and act to avoid pain. Everyone is looking for something better. ‘The Happiness in the corporate world’ a panel discussion on 11th June 2011 organized by Madras Management of Association focused on a proactive attitude to improving happiness quotient.

We can train the mind to be happy—it is an achievable goal. Most psychiatrists see people in distress and conclude that the most one can hope for is the transformation of despair into common unhappiness. The Indian tradition shows us that positive radiant in the happiness quotient concept happiness is our birthright. The panel discussion focused on the happiness quotient and illustrated how to achieve it. The Happiness quotient (HQ) is a concept that rates approximately, the measure of happiness each person has achieved in his life. This programme sought to provides a blueprint to increase one’s HQ. It started by describing the creation of a positive mindspace, one that nurtures the positive emotions that increases happiness. It also discussed the impact of negative fields and how to avoid them.

The moderator Dr. Rekha Shetty outlined the following as the radiant actions which lead to happiness.

The First Radiant Action For Physical Wellness
The Second Radiant Action For Emotional Wellness
The Third Radiant Action For Personal Wellness
The Fourth Radiant Action For Family Bonding
The Fifth Radiant Action For Nurturing The Workplace
The Sixth Radiant Action of Social Bonding
The Seventh Radiant Action For Dharmic Living

Happiness is an ‘inside’ job working within to recreate the garden of your mind, creates happiness. Getting rid of the snakes and thorns, stones and scorpions (anger, hatred, fear, greed and jealousy) can clean up the mind garden. If you really want to be happy, you need to plant the flowers of love, the fountain of companionship, liberate the butterflies of laughter and let loose the rainbow of courage and the cool breezes of peace.

Shekhar Arora Executive Director, HR Ashok Leyland, spoke about how as a young officer, he was pulled up by his boss for smiling happily in the corridor. He then shared how the initiative of sharing compliments and affirmations on the website through the ‘You made my day!” web page ushered in a wave of happiness. “The page had 11,000 hits!” he said, “We need to bring back fun in the workplace”, he concluded.

Mr. V. Balaraman Director of Mahindra World City Developers and India Nippon Electricals, “Reading the book made me really happy and that was a pleasant surprise I did not expect “. “Being happy needs awareness [that you need to be happy]; and conscious
training of oneself. The key thing on the back cover of the book is that -while you cannot determine the events that happen around you – you certainly can decide your reaction /response to them”.

Mr. V Narasimhan – Executive Director of Brakes India Foundry Division, said ‘This book took me back to my roots and reminded me of all the wonderful things which I had forgotten’. He commented on the very Indian nature of the Happiness quotient. The use of the Navarasas and the Ashta Lakshmis were unusual in Management science.

The discussion flowed around the seven radiant actions.

The First Radiant Action For Physical Wellness

‘Physical fitness is of utmost importance as it is the starting point for wellness of the mind and spirit. Take care of yourself as no one else can do it for you’. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely an absence of diseases or infirmity. Really speaking, health is not a state but a continuous adjustment to the changing demands of life and the environment. Positive health implies perfect functioning of body and mind in a given society.

Corporates can practice yoga, set up a gym and leave time for sports and recreation. Canteens can provide a choice of healthy food and drink.

Parameters for Physical Wellness

Perfect Breathing & Positive thinking

Sleep Food
Oil Massage Water
Bath Timing
of food

The Second Radiant Action For Emotional Wellness

Around every person there is a field of emotional energy. Some people always look radiant, and everything in their life flourishes and grows. They have a positive energy field around them. Some people, on the other hand, always have a morose or tense air about them, and everything in their life seems to fade and die. They have a negative energy field around them. A positive field is created by positive emotions and a negative field draws sustenance from negative emotions.
Energy causes all beings to act in this world. The higher the level of energy, the greater the accomplishments. When we are tired, our energy level plummets and we do not feel like doing anything. When the field around is negative with hurt, anger, possessiveness, greed, jealousy, fear and abhorrence, we are less able to act with speed and efficiency. These emotions suck the energy and life-force out of us. All beings have within them the all-pervading life-force, the same one that creates and sustains life in the universe. It is the universal or cosmic energy that binds and connects all creatures in a single, networked web. That is why it is difficult to be completely happy while hurting others. It is necessary at all times to make sure that the negative field is not created.

Dealing with Negative Emotions

Deal with anger as with a traffic light:

Red light
Stop, calm down and think before you act.

Yellow Light
2. State the problem and how you feel.
3. Set a positive goal.
4. Think of several solutions to a problem.
5. Think ahead to the consequences of your actions.

Green light
6. Go ahead and execute the best plan.

The Third Radiant Action For Personal Wellness

A number of interesting ideas were tossed around…..

Any of the big five emotions—kama, kroda, madha, lobha, matsarya (lust, anger, arrogance, greed, jealousy, respectively) can flood the body with the chemicals of stress. Stress is destructive. Stress is ageing. Stress is a killer.
Let us consider the most common emotion of this century—anger. What happens when you are angry?
Thirty-six chemicals pour into the blood—lethal chemicals like adrenaline and histamine. Blood rushes through the heart, blood pressure and pulse rates shoot up. The rate of breathing increases. The body gets ready to fight or flee. Digestion is switched off. All parts of the brain, except the primitive ‘lizard brain’, are switched off. Happiness switches on the chemicals of life and joy: endorphins and serotonins.

Towards Personal Happiness
• The world is in your drawing room, it is clamoring to change your life with more and more sophisticated toys. As a popular saying goes, ‘What separates the men from the boys is just the price of their toys.’ Simplify and go home to what you really need.
• The world is like a buffet counter at a five-star hotel. Let’s not grab everything on our plates. Let us be choosy, so that we may avoid spiritual indigestion and physical exhaustion.
• Let us replace stress with positive emotions that engender joy. Let us increase our HQ.
• ‘I felt like a waterfall,’ said Diane Roffe-Stainrotter, gold-medalist skier in the 1994 Winter Olympics. The joy of a job perfectly executed, fills the body with the chemicals of bliss.
• Professor Mihalyi Csikzent speaks about a state called the flow, which athletes, musicians, surgeons—in fact everyone—experiences when they are at their best. It is the experience of doing your job with total immersion in it. So absorbed are you, that there is no place for anxiety or niggling worries.
• Finding a job you love is one of the ways you can immunise yourself against heart problems.
• A good marriage is a protective shield against heart attacks.

Affirmations for Personal Wellness
Every day, at an appointed hour, sit peacefully with your eyes closed and breathe. Then repeat the following affirmations.
 By nature I am kind, gentle and loving.
 Any mistake committed is unintentional and I forgive myself and others for it.
 God’s grace has created a magic circle of love, a safe haven for me and my loved ones.
 I am capable of achieving my goals with hard work and dedication.
 I look around me for help and knowledge to reach my goals.
 I seek companions who encourage and help me.

The Fourth Radiant Action For Family Bonding

Every one of the panelists felt the family was the shock absorber of society. Alvin Toffler wrote “Family is the giant shock absorber of society to which the bruised and battered individual returns after doing battle with world. A few simple happiness producing activities were discussed.
After the World Wars, many babies were orphaned. They were placed in state-run orphanages in the United Kingdom. They were kept warm and clean and fed at regular intervals. Suddenly many of the babies began to die of unknown causes. Scientists ascribed the reason for death to ‘lack of human touch, a lack of mothering.’ These deaths were caused by lack of hugging, fondling and nurturing. No one mothered the babies or spoke to them or sang to them. The children died due to lack of love.
The family provides the love and nurturing required for the survival of children. As we grow older, we crave nurturing, but are not adept at asking for it. We long for affirmation from the ‘significant other’ in our lives. Affirmation is when important people in our appreciate us and express it verbally, tonally, non-verbally. The opposite of an affirmation is a discount. You need at least ten affirmations for every discount for the maintenance of a healthy relationship. A home filled with discounts becomes a torture chamber instead of a sanctuary.
It is important to make sure you give affirmations to all members of the family, particularly the ones to whom you usually send devastating Heat Seeking Missiles (HSMs) like, ‘Why is your room like a pig sty?’ ‘Why do you always forget anything I tell you?’ Make every day an occasion to show how important your family is to you.

Celebrate the five senses for happiness.

The Five Senses
1. The smell of incense and home-food cooking.
2. The taste of a home-cooked meal, cooked with love and affection.
3. The look of a newly swept yard with a kolam design drawn on the ground with rice-flour.
4. The touch of love and affection, and freshly washed and ironed bed sheets.
5. The sound of shared music and contentment after a good meal

Happiness Creating Activities

Singing together.
Thanking your gurus.
Being loving and giving affirmations to parents and elders.
Forgiving those who harmed you in your life—let go.
Calling forth the highest from others
Thinking of God, the source of all abundance.
Celebrating Abundance. Praising God.

The Fifth Radiant Action For Nurturing The Workplace

People can be very happy if they love their work. In a hospital in Madurai, a group was created called the Madurai Veerans, a powerful band of corporate commandos. They were intensely, joyfully, happy. They were bonded into teams to pursue strategic goals. They chose problems and developed innovative solutions to solve them. Implementation was a result of deep engagement and commitment.

A recent happiness survey shows that hairdressers have the highest levels of happiness at work! The reason? They are in direct touch with their customers.
Chris Humphries, Director General of City and Guilds says: Nowadays, job satisfaction and happiness is about fulfilling your potential, tapping into your own creativity and feeling that you can make a difference. Many are exchanging their desk-bound jobs for vocations that enable them to be hands-on, use their brains and be in change of their own destiny.

Happy Professions: Here are guidelines for vocational happiness.

Serve others. Look at your profession as a means to serve and make others happy.
Make a living causing the least amount of pain to living creatures.
Eliminate mad deadlines or emergency.
Ensure freedom to be self-dependent and take own decisions.
Make space for innovation
Believe in hi-touch along with hi-tech. Have a good level of contact with people and elicit positive responses from them

Happiness Breaks: Take them everyday!

1. Take short relaxation breaks, at least thrice a day.
2. Eat fresh, energy-giving foods.
3. Take a walk outdoors during lunch break.
4. Stay away from politics and back-biting.
5. Involve your spouse and children in your work. Bring them to the office during lunch break or on a Saturday.
6. Spend time reading and improving your mind.
7. Get involved in activities that will benefit others.
8. Develop an absorbing hobby or skill—driving, dancing, gardening, carpentry, painting, amateur radio, etc.
9. Keep in touch with your close friends and extended family, use the power of the internet.
10. Plan to cut off from work on weekends.
11. Meditate. Take care of yourself.
12. Look at your life-goals and evaluate your job to see if it will help you achieve them.
13. Learn to say ‘No’.
14. Remember that people are more important than getting ahead.
15. If you have a toxic workplace, look for another job.
16. Know that you are more important than the car you drive, house you inhabit, your bank balance or the promise of a foreign holiday.

The Sixth Radiant Action of Social Bonding

No man is an island, but a part of the Main, wrote the pensive poet John Donne. Man is a social animal and needs to live in harmony with fellow human beings. Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand other people, to communicate effectively with them, to identify what motivates them, and to work cooperatively with them. Intrapersonal intelligence is the inward ability to understand and form an accurate model of one’s self and to operate that model effectively to live life. Professor Howard Gardner of the Harvard School of Psychology says that the two aspects of personal intelligence, interpersonal and intrapersonal, form the most important foundation for a happy, fulfilling life. For those who define success as happiness, these two elements are essential to learn and practice.

Some people have the ability to empathies with others. They can recognise and, to some extent, share feelings that are being experienced by another. This skill involves being able to pick up the subtle verbal, tonal and non-verbal signals that people give. Charismatic leaders are well-versed in this skill, they use it to break barriers between people and reach out to them. An orator well-versed in people skills can make thousands of people respond as one.

Phrases that Building Lifetime Relationships
There are simple words of reassurance that can miraculously improve the energy field and build bridges between people. They provide support and encouragement to those around. Use them often, but use them sincerely.
• I agree.
• I really enjoy talking to you.
• That’s good!
Good job!
• I made a mistake, I’m sorry.
• I like the way you left your room clean today.
• I couldn’t do it as well as you even if I tried.
• That’s a great idea!
• You’re on the right track.
• That’s a winner!
• I believe you can do it!
• I know you can make it work!
• If anyone can do it, you can.
• Congratulations!
• Beautiful!
• What I really like about you is —.

Phrases that Destroy Relationships
Negative words are often experienced by others like lethal weapons. When sent out with matching non-verbal signals or HSMs, they can demolish people. Watch your verbal, tonal and non-verbal arrows.
• What I can’t stand about you is —.• You’re always messing thing up. • Trust you to come up with an impossible idea.
• Every time you come here, there is a mess.
• You have no idea about this.
• We’ve tried all that you say. It doesn’t work.
• It sounds okay, but it is quite impractical.
• Be serious. Be practical.
• Has anyone done it before?
• Let’s ask fifty people about it.
• You don’t understand our culture.

Life-Destroying Experiences
• Fear of losing your job.
• Anxiety about not being able to keep up with your peers.
• Working every day so long and so hard that you are barely able to think.
• Working in a hostile atmosphere where there is intense competition.
• Receiving discounts from those you love.
• Betrayal.
• Feeling trapped.
• Feeling abandoned.

The Seventh Radiant Action For Dharmic Living

‘You can fool everybody, but you cannot fool yourself. Not even for a single minute. Doing your dharma as you understand it, alone can make you happy. If you feel that what you are doing is adharma, you can never be happy,

Dharma is the law of right living. Unless you live by your own internal standards you can never be happy. When you bend the rules you reduce your chances for true, pure happiness. ‘Flexibility is bending rules without breaking them’, proclaims a smart hoarding, showing a gymnast’s impossible stretch. It all depends on what your internal monitor will allow.

Happiness Traps
• Expecting too much from others.
• Not accepting yourself as you are; demanding too much of yourself.
• Not being content with anything.
• Feeling you are not contributing.
• Feeling excluded.
• Playing politics and being manipulative.
• Feeling you cannot prevent another’s suffering.
• Constantly craving for food.
• In a rush all the time.
• Excessively or often angry.
• Full of lethargy and inactivity.
• Having too much tiredness.
• Ignoring others.
Being too self-absorbed.
• Promising more than you can deliver. • Being selfish.

Percentage of people enjoying their jobs according to a City of London study:

Hair dressers – 40%
Clergy – 24%
Beauticians – 22%
Plumbers – 20%
Electrician, – 18%
Health professional – 17%
Pharmaceutical – 15%
Scientists – 15%
Interior designers – 9%
Travel agents – 9%
Teachers – 8%
Accountants – 7%
IT specialists – 5%
Lawyers – 5%
Secretaries – 5%
Estate agents – 4%
Civil servants – 3%
Architects – 2%
Social workers – 2%

Anti-happiness traps, too, find a special place. They require special identification as they can be very misleading, like a comfortable golden cage full of fruit, must seem to a free-flying parrot. Whatever the external circumstances may be, the individual is responsible for his inner state. Events are not under our control, but our perceptions and reactions to them are. All panelists affirmed that Life’s greatest prize was Happiness.

About the author

Dr Rekha Shetty, Ph.D is the founder of the Mindspower brand and managing director of Farstar Distribution Network Ltd, a twenty-year old consulting firm working exclusively on innovation initiatives and work-life balance. She consults for some of the region’s foremost blue chip companies. She is keenly involved in social action and is one of the first women Rotary International governors in Asia and a recipient of the Service above Self Award. Her other books include The Way to a Healthy Heart: The Zero Heart Attack Path; Portable Root, Corporate Strategy: Mindspower Innovation and Innovate! 90 Days To Transform Your Business .Her thoughts come from a deep study of many disciplines: Management, Sociology, Psychology, Economics, History and Spirituality. Her ideas are practiced in over 30 countries.

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