There is abundant research to support the importance of happiness in life. Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology researchers first provided focus on the role of happiness in personal and professional success; neuroscientists like Helen Immordino-Yang researched the implications of positive emotional state on the capacity to learn; in 2022, a private college offered the first Masters of Science degree in “Happiness Studies.” Across sectors that study how humans thrive and survive, the role of happiness has become increasingly advocated for and studied as a science.
What is happiness? Aristotle once discussed happiness as eudaimonia–a sense that life is well-lived, making it clear that there is more to happiness than found money in a coat pocket. But this is a tall order, and modern psychologists have found that there is physiological benefit to happiness that can be found in fleeting emotional states that are positive. Scientists have examined happiness as both temporary emotional states of joy (which can be experienced as a fleeting emotion in response to a stimulus received positively) and the more sustained emotional state of joy (which are experienced as a state of being that underpins mood changes). Across research on happiness and both kinds of happiness, there are infinite numbers of benefits beyond the feeling itself: releases of hormones that improve physical health (and increased lifespan);
increased motivation to act, complete tasks, attain goals; increased capacity to build new knowledge and retain new information; reduction in biased thinking; and on and on. Happiness is increasingly studied because it is so important—we need regular access to happiness to be healthy, successful, and to thrive.
The research on happiness falls into sharp relief when juxtaposed against the research on leadership. Most leadership research posits a belief that true leadership requires sacrifice. The greater the leader, the greater the sacrifice. The measure of the commitment? How much one is willing to withstand. The science tells us to get happy, and our society tells us to get busy.
So how do we get happy if our value is measured in how much we give up? For a start, we believe the science and not the socialization. We recognize that regular access to happiness does make us more efficient, healthy, successful. We have to acknowledge, and truly accept the science to begin to move past old ideas that shortened leaders’ life spans. We must prioritize regular access to joy. This is not “toxic positivity”—looking for that silver lining in every misery thereby diminishing the real experiences of a negative emotional state. Rather, manufacturing happiness is creating intentional habits in our lives that will predictably lead to the things that make us happy.
Manufacturing frequent, regular, predictable access to happiness looks different for everyone. There is no one path to happiness, but there is a unifying need for us to all find our path. Creating regular access to happiness is as basic as creating a plan for healthy eating or movement—it begins with deciding to make a plan and then sticking to it. And having a coach to support you with that plan never hurts!
Join us this Monday for the June Mindfulness Coaching Call with Kristin. Learn how to manufacture happiness as a wellness strategy and explore the latest research!