Oh Happy Days!

Menna El Gohary – May 24, 2021

On a dark, quiet quarantine night, we’ve all probably googled ‘what is happiness’ and were bombarded with quotes, videos, articles, and videos of cute children describing what makes them happy. Each one of us has a different interpretation and perspective of that particular sensation. For instance, an investment banker might tell you that she/he/they feel happiness the most when their stocks portfolio is doing great while a rural farmer might tell you that she/he/they are the happiest when the apples have ripened. However, there is one thing we can all agree on in regards to happiness and that is happiness is “one of the most salient of human pursuits” (Diener, Sapyta, & Suh, 1998). 


Now how do we achieve happiness? Well, I don’t think that there’s a one size fits all answer to that question. You have books, research, and classic movies like “Eat Pray Love” and “The Pursuit of Happiness” that have a go at achieving so. You even have official annual reports titled “World Happiness Report” that are released by international organizations such as the United Nation Sustainable Development Solutions Network. They believe that happiness revolves around six variables: healthy life expectancies, generosity, social support, freedom, income, and government trust. However, they have also received backlash by several economists and researchers for failing to acknowledge factors that are necessary for happiness. All this debate about happiness ironically has created anything but happiness. 

The American Psychological Association has simply chosen to define happiness as an emotion of joy and wellbeing. Well, I think they could’ve done a better job at defining such a powerful emotion, but oh well it still makes sense. Based on my personal experiences, I define happiness as achieving an internal state of balance. Well give me a chance to explain myself and hopefully my dear reader you won’t find me weird. I see ourselves internally as scales ( a close picture of what I’m saying is the chakras) and we all subconsciously work hard to keep those scales balanced at a certain level. Let’s just say I got a promotion at my job which would bring immense happiness. Now that happiness is associated with balancing out your ‘work scale.’ Still not convinced? Well here’s another example. Your favourite celebrity finally replied to your millionth DM and you’re through the roof that he/she/they know that you actually exist. (Don’t lie! We’ve all had our fangirl/boy dreams) Well, you my friend just balanced out your esteem scale. Still not convinced? Well, that’s absolutely normal because once again we all have our different interpretations of happiness. 


Now, what can workspaces do to help us achieve happiness? Let’s be real about the fact that the pandemic has taken a huge toll on us mentally, physically, and professionally. We can all take small steps to get back up again through therapy, self-love, family support…and a million other resources available out there. What about work? If you’re a manager, what are you doing to ensure that your employees aren’t burning out and aren’t depressed from their jobs? To make things even more serious, a recent study by the World Health Organization states that working more than 55 hours per week increases your risk of a stroke by 35%. A great place to start from is the five pillars of wellbeing which are connecting, being active, taking notice, learning, and giving. Many organizations have focused on that last pillar through implementing ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ where employees give back to the community through volunteering, donating…etc. (and that balances out your kindness scale….sorry I had to try and convince you again) Other organizations now have therapists, life coaches, and in-house massages to help ease the daily stress. 


There are many ways to make sure your employees and yourself are unhappy in life, and the first step to reversing that is by admitting that there is a problem. Sit down with yourself, breath, and self-reflect. Talk to a therapist, a loved one, or even yourself to see what’s missing (and find that inner balance!) Happiness is a wonderful sensation to have and I hope that your moments indeed are filled with it. 


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