According to studies, happy employees are more productive and creative (Oswald et al. 2014, Estrada et al. 1993). For example, doctors are 19 % more accurate at making diagnosis when they are positive and salespeople do 37 % more sales (Lyubomirsky et al. 2005). I happen to live in Finland, and it’s darn dark and gloomy in here for five months out of the year. Because of the long Nordic winters, up to one third of Finns have seasonal symptoms (Huttunen 2015). I, for example, tend to be grumpier, gain weight, and sleep longer from November till March. In general, I would say I’m slightly less ‘happy’ during the winter. This has led me to investigate scientifically proven methods to elevate my mood, and instrumentally, also productivity at work. In this blog, I’ve written my findings down for you.
Determinants of happiness
Counter intuitively; circumstances contribute only 10 % to our happiness levels (Lyubomirsky et al. 2005). Circumstances include, for example, demographic factors like age, and status variables, such as, occupational status and wealth. Therefore, I could slightly boost my happiness by asking for a pay rise or a promotion from my boss. As much as I would love to get more salary and climb the ladder, studies suggest, however, that boost to happiness due to changes in circumstances are short lived at best (Headey et al. 1989).
The way we are biologically wired, our genes, in turn, contribute 50 % to our feeling of happiness (Lyobomirsky et al. 2005). This is our ‘set value’. Some of us are always cheerful, and some of us are more cynical than the others by nature. In addition to making sure I get enough vitamin D and bask under a SAD lamp each morning, there’s unfortunately little I can do to change my biologically driven inclination to ‘hibernate’ during winters.
It’s, then, empowering to realize that, according to studies, the remainder of our level of happiness, a whopping 40 %, is contingent on our intentional activity. Intentional activity can be defined as “actions or practices in which people can choose to engage” (Ibid. 118). This is to say, that unlike circumstances that happen to people, or our set value that we are born into, intentional activity is something we actively choose to do.
In the following, I go through four intentional activities I find most useful to boost happiness, and in the end, productivity at work.
1. Being extra helpful towards your colleagues
I strive to be extra kind and helpful towards my colleagues. This is obviously important all year round, but especially during the winter. Even if I wouldn’t particularly feel like having the energy, I squeeze myself to walk the extra mile for others. Studies show that doing good for others is extremely powerful way to boost your own happiness (Magen et al. 1991).
The most effective way for me to boost my mood during the winter is exercise. I choose to walk three kilometers to work and back every day. This adds up to 30 kilometers each week. Not only does exercise trigger the feel-good-hormones, it also keeps my weight down. As most of us, I feel better when I’m happy to the way I look in the mirror.
3. Counting your blessings
Since winters are dark, cold and gloomy, it’s easy to wallow in negative thoughts. I intentionally count my blessings each morning to repel negativity. In essence, I force myself to concentrate on the positive things in my life. I remind myself that I’m lucky to have good friends, healthy relatives, wonderful colleagues, and a job that I love. Your brain is like a muscle. If you activate the areas handling positive things, those sections get stronger. The “thankfulness-effect” has been undisputedly proven in multiple studies (Korb 2012).
4. Devoting yourself to a meaningful cause
I couldn’t imagine working in a company that wouldn’t make the world a better place. This is crucial for me. When I’m working for a cause I believe in, I fight like a gladiator. I don’t give up, no matter what. We at Tapp Commerce are dedicated to fight for a more financially inclusive world. It’s not merely the salary that makes me jump out of my bed in the morning and strive for better results – it’s the cause. And I’m convinced, that I’m not the only one in our company to feel this way. We Tappians are extremely proud of what we do. You can see and sense the enthusiasm all around the world, whether in Finland, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand or The Philippines. Tapp is truly #HereForGood!
I challenge you to think: What is the cause you are fighting for?
Elia Elenius MSc, is a Community Manager at Tapp Commerce. Follow Elia on Twitter.
List of references:
Estrada, C., Isen, A. M., & Young, M. J. (1994). Positive affect influences creative problem solving and reported source of practice satisfaction in physicians – Motivation and Emotion, 18, 285–299.
Headey, B., & Wearing, A. (1989). Personality, life events, and subjective well-being: Toward a dynamic equilibrium model. – Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 731–739.
Huttunen, M. (2015). Kaamosmasennus. / Duodecim Terveyskirjasto. http://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/terveyskirjasto/tk.koti?p_artikkeli=dlk00377
Korb, A. (2012). The Grateful Brain: The Neuroscience of Giving Thanks. / Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201211/the-grateful-brain
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K.M. (2005). Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change. – Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111–131.
Magen, Z., & Aharoni, R. (1991). Adolescents’ contributing toward others: Relationship to positive experiences and transpersonal commitment. – Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 31, 126–143.
Oswald, A.J., Proto, E., Sgroi, D. (2014). Happiness and Productivity. / Working paper, University of Warwick. https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/eproto/workingpapers/happinessproductivity.pdf