Happy talk – introductory exercise.
According to the old Ken Dodd song, the greatest thing that we possess… is happiness. But is this trainable, is it something worth investing in and most crucially, can it make a difference at work by impacting on the performance of people?
In the early 2000’s there was a massive upsurge of interest in the science of happiness– fuelled by some great books – such as Martin Seligman’s acclaimed ‘Flourish’. Evidence from numerous studies such as ‘Project Happiness’ demonstrated that certain practices could be adopted which were capable of changing the neural pathways of our brain - meaning that happiness was malleable and could be altered through practice.
Significantly it was found that only 10% of our happiness was due to our external circumstances, 50% of our happiness came from our genes and as much as 40% could be accounted for by our intentional daily activities and the choices we make. Such revelations fuelled a wealth of training programmes to develop daily practices capable of influencing our overall happiness levels. Interest in this field quickly led to a growing industry of (odiously-titled?) ‘fun-sultants’ - providing advice on how to make workforces more positive, with organisations such as Zappos employing their own Chief Happiness Officers.
These days, things have moved on a little. Organisations are a little more sceptical about investing in fluffy concepts such as ‘happiness’ and instead, there appears to be a much greater appetite for applying the broader principles of positive psychology to impact on emotional well-being and long term performance in the workplace. However, getting people to explore this term ‘happiness’, what this very personal construct is all about and how individuals can take ownership of their own emotional state can be a useful place to start on any L&D initiative concerned with personal resilience, emotional well-being, stress management, positive psychology and/or mindfulness.
One little exercise which works really well as a simple conversation starter in any of these programmes is to randomly distribute the set of cards around the group. Ask everyone to share what is on their card, discuss their responses to each card as a group and then decide which of the very plausible sounding statements is true or false.
Free resource: happinessexercise
Let us know how you get on with the cards (and if you’re unsure as to which of the statements are true!).