What is happiness?

This BOSS
article
has turned my attention once again to Martin
Seligman
, author of


Authentic
Happiness

and


Learned
Optimism
.

We all seek to be happy, but how happy can we be and what can make us happy?
Seligman suggests there are three components to happiness. He calls them the
"hedonistic life" – searching for happiness through material
wealth, the "engaged life" – being absorbed in what your are
doing, and the "meaningful life" where you serve something bigger
than yourself.

According to Seligman

"the amount of meaning and engagement you have are vastly more important
than the amount of positive emotion you have."

and,

"there is reason to believe that productivity follows very similar
laws to life satisfaction. That is, it’s related to the amount of meaning
you have at work, to the amount of absorption and flow you have at work,
and to a lesser extent, the amount of positive emotion you have at work.
That means to me that if you’re a manager, you need to be attending very
carefully to how much meaning and purpose your employees have. You want
to be designing what they do every day to have more engagement, more flow,
more time-stopping. An you also wnat to think about how much positive emotion
there is on the job."

Look at the banner at the top of this page. Seligman’s words strike us as
reflecting our own beliefs and values. We have believed for a long time that
providing workers "meaning and purpose" in their jobs is a good
thing to do
for its own sake. If you value the dignity of human existence,
it follows that you will want to give people meaningful work. Work they can
engage in and be proud of.

Seligman’s point here accords with another deep belief of mine
providing meaning and purpose in work increases workers’ productivity.

In recent days I have come to believe that not only is their productivity
increased but it, and that of the organisation they belong to, is applied
in a fundamentally better direction. A direction that resonates with the needs
of the world at large.

This is something I hope to develop more in future articles.

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