In our operations with the Finnish Happiness Research Association, we’ve heard that at times like these, we should put happiness theme on hold. As if it’s not appropriate to talk about happiness when there’s a war in Europe.
This kind of attitude stems from viewing happiness as a mere feel good, as something extra in life. If we consider happiness as an end product, something achievable only as a consequence, then it’s easy to mistake it as something extra in life. As such, it becomes something we can afford to live without, if needed. Like a brand new car. Or an extra pair of shoes. Or that vacation on a deserted island.
No wonder it then feels like something we need to put on hold during times of hardship. And especially during times of war. I mean, it’s selfish to even think about happiness, when others are suffering. Right?
Yet, a week ago, as I was presenting at the Gross Global Happiness Summit, it was clear that happiness is not something we need to put on hold during times like these. The event, organized by World Happiness Foundation and the UN-established University for Peace, was centered around happiness and the impact it has on individual and global progress.
Research says, that happy people are more likely to be productive, creative, helpful and have good health. Not the other way around. So, it’s not merely just a feel good, but something that truly benefits both the person and the society at large. I would argue, that these findings alone give us enough reasons to double down on happiness. We certainly need productivity, creativity, helpfulness and good health in order to be even somewhat useful in aiding such situations as the current is.
Not to mention Barbara Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory, which suggests that positive emotions broaden an individual’s momentary thought–action repertoire, whereas negative emotions narrow it. And by broadening an individual’s momentary thought–action repertoire, positive emotions promote discovery of novel and creative actions, ideas and social bonds, which in turn build that individual’s personal resources. These resources, then, function as reserves that can be drawn on later to improve the odds of successful coping and survival.
In light of this, we do not necessarily need the new car, or extra pair of shoes, or vacation on deserted island. But now is exactly the time we need to double down on practicing happiness for the sake of maintaining our performance in everyday life. I’d say, our lives depend on it. Happiness isn’t a privilege we have, it’s a necessity we can’t live without.
We are in need of novel and creative ideas in navigating in today’s world. Not just because of the war in Europe. But because humanity needs it in so many levels.
The truth is, merely surviving isn’t enough anymore. We yearn to thrive, constructively and sustainably. And the opportunity to do so exists for us all through practicing happiness. Through using that skill as our strength in venturing forward during these unprecedented times.
Let’s just make sure we do not turn happiness into another stressor in our lives. We certainly do not need any more of those.
If you’d like support in creating happiness practice for yourself or for your work community, do not hesitate to get in touch for available options – I’m happy to help!