Do you know the 5G of Happiness?

Much has been written about what might seem like a modern indulgence: the aim of being happy. I have previously added to the many, many words and ideas online. And I enjoy (!) researching the topic, including articles on what makes us unhappy, too.

But, did you know that quite simply, and maybe paradoxically, there are actually 5 G’s in “happiness”?

First, Give: the importance of performing acts of kindness for others actually helps us be happy too. I was reading recently of a local recording of the TV show “DIY SOS” where volunteer tradespeople give their time to help a family facing difficult circumstances. For this episode, they needed 100 people over 9 days. Nearly one thousand plumbers, electricians, carpenters and gardeners applied to give their time and talent. Week after week the volunteers say how working on the project has been the most enjoyable initiative of their lives. Many organisations have schemes to encourage staff to give to local initiatives or charities. These have spinoff benefits for both staff and employer wellbeing. This LinkedIn blog explains a bit more about giving. Who can you help? Where is your kindness needed?

Second, are you Grounded, with realistic expectations? Mo Gawdat has written how manging our anticipation in situations is the easiest way to create joy. Upward comparison with others is corrosive. Sometimes we are encouraged to have Great Expectations for life: to imagine all that we want, and believe it will come This positive psychology can jar with those grieving and facing hardship, or suffering at work in a maddening 'noble purpose organisation'. Gawdat shows how satisfaction, and happiness too, is a function of what we expect.

Expanding on this, and linked to the sentiment of the famous Byrds song "Turn! Turn! Turn!", there is a time for sadness, even in a blog on happiness. The importance of Grief must be acknowledged here: a time to cry, as well as a time to laugh, is helpful for long term contentment. Allowing for loss, endings and frustrations in our relationships and lives is core in Liz Miller's helpful book 'Mood Mapping'.

Fourth, (and maybe two G’s in one here), do you have clear Goals for growth? One client I am working with is investing in helping all their staff - in all teams and in all of their distributed locations - be really clear on their chosen goals and their plan to achieve them during 2018. They believe this will promote vocation, role and life satisfaction. In our lives generally, are we clear of medium and longer term goals with our partners, family and even friends? Maybe this is a bit in contrast to realism in the G that 'grounded', but what do you hope for? Where would you like to have fun along the way, in the projects that will make your life better? A new role? A new hobby? A new place to live, or a new way of living?

Finally, Gratitude: the importance of counting our blessings. At the turn of each calander year we are often encouraged to set resolutions for the coming 12 months. An alternative approach is to list and be grateful for the things the previous year has brought. What are you pleased for? How do you keep focused on the good things in life, even when the journey is a bit rocky? This approach doesn't have to wait for the end of the year. One colleague regularly, even religiously, completes the journal book 'Two Minute Mornings'. It asks you to jot down what you are grateful for (as well as what you will let go of and focus on) each day. She loves the impact it has for her. Leading speaker Michael Heppell shares how his Grateful List of 5 things to be thankful for each and every day is his most important ritual in life.

So, the 5G of happiness. I find things are better when I practise them. Do they work for you? Does it give you the bandwidth for the life you want to live? So much better than GPRS (grumbles, pessimism, rumination and shame), I reckon.


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