Happiness Principles To Live By – 7 of 7

I admit, taking on a freelance activity at Happy Melly has been a great social investment for me.

A small team of enthusiastic people (all freelance) all believing workplaces should be engaging and happy to spend your time. Helping each other out as proactive as possible, experimenting when time permits, and showing gratitude via peer recognition on bonus.ly

When at times I get swamped at my normal day job, spending as much as 30 minutes on Happy Melly activities, having a chat on Slack, working through the open tasks on Trello… it helps. It motivates, to do those tasks right, but as well to refocus on the day job.


Why Social Support Is Your Single Greatest Asset

The most successful people hold tighter to their social support in the midst of challenges and stress at work, instead of turning inward (which is often the normal human reaction). Instead of divesting, they invest. Not only are these people happier, but they are more productive, engaged, energetic, and resilient. They know that their social relationships are the single greatest investment they can make in the Happiness Advantage.

Perhaps most important, social connections motivate. When over a thousand highly successful professional men and women were interviewed as they approached retirement and asked what had motivated them the most, throughout their careers, overwhelmingly they placed work friendships above both financial gain and individual status.

“The people we interviewed from good-to-great companies clearly loved what they did largely because they loved who they did it with.” –  Jim Collins; Good to Great

In short, the more the team members (are encouraged to) invest in their social cohesion, the better the results of their work.


Happiness Principles To Live By – 6 of 7

You will have to read Shawn Achor’s book to fully understand why this sixth principle is called the 20-second rule. Though lowering activation energy for habits you want to adapt and increasing it for those you want to let go off… that can be practiced.

Here’s an example:

  • I smoke – not a great source of vitamin C – but I always have them with me
  • I do not take vitamin C – thus, logically you would say, those are at a fair distant for me to take them

Imagine I would want to quit smoking and start taking those vitamins in return. The way the 20-second rule principle works is to ‘simply’ keep those cigarettes every day a little bit further away from me, while at the same time putting the vitamin C closer (ok, I would first need to buy them).

I’ll be increasing the activation effort to smoke a little bit every day, while lowering the activation energy to take vitamins. Eventually… you guess… it is so much easier to take the vitamin, because those are now standing next to me, than to get up and walk through the whole house (or beyond – depending on the level of addiction) to find a smoke. It becomes a ‘not worth the effort anymore’ activity.

— and no… I haven’t yet tried this with the smoking… — yes, I should, I know…


How to Turn Bad Habits into Good Ones by Minimizing Barriers to Change

Common sense is not common action. Would you be surprised if I told you that cigarettes are not a great source of vitamin C? Or that watching hours of reality television will not dramatically raise your IQ? Probably not. Similarly, we all know that we should exercise, sleep eight hours, eat healthier, and be kind to others. But does this common knowledge make doing these things any easier? Of course not. Because in life, knowledge is only part of the battle. Without action, knowledge is often meaningless.

If our brains have the capacity to change, as we now know they do, why is changing our behavior so hard, and how can we make it easier?

This strategy is universally applicable: Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt, and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.

Passage from workout – get something in sight and hand reach to start doing it

Happiness Principles To Live By – 5 of 7

This fifth principle may seem logical, maybe even ‘easy’, but honestly, if you take a step back and look at what you are doing everyday… how are goals set at your company? Can you influence them? Would you or your line manager (yes, many of us still have those) feel comfortable with an exercise of cutting the ‘goal for this year’ into monthly or even weekly goals?

And your non work related task? Adding to the calendar to ‘prepare the garden for the spring’, oeefff, that’s gonna cost me the whole weekend? Or, this week – plant seeds, next week – cut back those trees, the week after – maw and seed some more grass, …?

It may often be a little awkward to start doing, though I’ve found out that taking little steps – and telling myself that it was good to take that little step – helps to make more progress faster, and eventually complete the larger tasks and goals at hand.


How Limiting Your Focus to Small, Manageable Goals Can Expand Your Sphere of Power

One of the biggest drivers of success is the belief that our behavior matters; that we have control over our future. Yet when our stresses and workloads seem to mount faster than our ability to keep up, feelings of control are often the first things to go, especially when we try to tackle too much at once. If, however, we first concentrate our efforts on small manageable goals, we regain the feeling of control so crucial to performance.

When the challenges we face are particularly challenging and the payoff remains far away, setting smaller, more manageable goals helps us build our confidence and celebrate our forward progress, and keeps us committed to the task at hand. By first limiting the scope of our efforts, then watching those efforts have the intended effect, we accumulate the resources, knowledge, and confidence to expand the circle, gradually conquering a larger and larger area.

“Don’t write a book, write a page” – Peter Bregman (Harvard Business School professor)