Monday, November 13, 2006

Smile, be happy, be glad

Psychologists and economists are increasingly moving into a new field of research: trying to figure out what can make us happy.

For decades, governments have been focusing on the topic of how to make us richer, on the assumption that wealth improves the quality of life. But what's interesting is that as people in the developed world have got richer over the last 40 years or so, the quality of life and happiness that people feel has actually diminished.

I don't want to get into a lengthy debate about the reasons why. But there is good evidence that optimism is not something that you are merely born with. Whether you are a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person can actually be dictated by emotional training.

So here's a practical tip. If you are feeling fed up with your work, try to focus on what it is that you have enjoyed about it in the past. Maybe it's a particular interaction with a collegue or a customer, or learning a new skill or overcoming a difficulty. Force yourself to recall a moment when you felt you were happy at work.

Even if you can only do it once a day, the preliminary research shows that such questions can significantly improve your relationship with your work.

Try it and let me know how you get on.