Happynomics is hot. And the king of a bitsy, sluggish Himalayan kingdom is the guy responsible.
In 1972, he gave traditional economics a kick in the teeth when he declared that “gross national happiness”–not gross national product–would be the new (and only!) measuring stick for his country’s success. Fast forward four decades, and you’ve got yourself the second fastest-growing economy in the world: the nation of Bhutan. But not everyone is clapping.
According to Charles Darwin, “Happiness is not good for work.” He’s right: Happiness is not good for work. It’s great for work. Here’s why:
1. Happiness softens the blow.
Whether your name is Smith or Zuckerberg, you’re going to have curve balls thrown at you whatever your line of work–blows that knock the shine right off your cheek. Cash-flows tank. Suppliers bomb. Clients drop like flies. In times like these, you’ll need more than the musings of Marcelene Cox, who once wrote, “Life is like a camel: you can make it do anything except back up.” You’ll need something exotic, daring, ferocious–you’ll need: happiness!
But happiness is not about having a trouble-free existence. Happiness is the determination to enjoy the puzzles that life throws your way, whatever they may be.
Can a failing business be a puzzle? Can scarcity, uncertainty, and major loss be a puzzle? In a word: absolutely–because the puzzles are “opportunities” equipped with coaches.
2. Happiness breaks your fall.
We all fall at times. The challenge is whether we ‘leave a dent’ or ‘build a grave-marker’ at the sight. If you’re anything like me, all your chips are on the dent. Dents are temporary. The trick is to break your fall like a stunt guy: tuck, roll, bounce. Solve your puzzle and keep it moving. These cool visionaries did:
- Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, got ‘happy’ when he had to close all U.S. stores early one afternoon in 2008–asking some 7,100 customers to leave.
- Mark Rothko, one of the fathers of Twentieth-Century American painting, got ‘happy’ when a New York Times critic called his work “befuddlement.”
- Prince, a world-famous artist and musicologist, got ‘happy’ when his record label forbid him from using his very own name on self-produced albums (because they now owned it!)
What did happiness do? Plenty. Shultz re-trained 135,000 company baristas how to properly pull a shot of espresso (which was actually the cause of sluggish sales)–boosting next-quarter sales through the roof! Rothko stripped his paintings bare, leaving only bright and daring colors, skillfully lavished into rectangular shapes on huge canvases, emoting sheer ecstasy in his viewers. Prince re-branded himself not as a name–but as a symbol–raking in multi-millions on upcoming albums!
They each solved their puzzles and so can you. Flip; twist; snap; and recast it. After all, the smartest solutions boil down to ‘that’s never-been-done-before’ kind of thinking–brainstorming with both sides of your brain. Simply put, tap into your imagination. Happiness (yes, the enjoyment of solving puzzles!) will coach your comeback.
3. Happiness erects your monument.
Shakespeare didn’t write for the year 1511, he wrote for the year 4000. If you’re anything like him, you’re practicing your craft in such a way that it will outlive you, being sought-after and enjoyed for thousands of years beyond your stint here on earth. But let me warn you: you’ll never accomplish this without happiness.
A question. Do you want a living monument to celebrate your life and work? Well, now is the time to strike your match. Take the temperature of your happiness. If you’re negative, frustrated or burnt out, then reboot. Look at yourself (and your problem) in the mirror for the next 7 days and say: “This is just a puzzle. And I enjoy solving puzzles.”
So remember: Have a 5,000-year outlook. Write like a demon. Sculpt, invent, dance. Create like God. Do whatever you do as if it must blaze the pages of future history books. Enjoy not only the results, but also the process. Take your time. Think through different strategies for solving your puzzle. And be patient because, as Leo Rosten once cheekily said: “Rome wasn’t burned in a day.”
Linette Marie Allen is founder and director of DreamZu, a personal development consultancy based in Washington, DC. Linette frequently lectures around the globe on the economics of imagination and is a regular contributor to EzineArticles and print publications. She holds a master’s degree in organizational and social psychology from the London School of Economics.
Her latest book, Operating in the Dream Zone, is available on Amazon in the Kindle Store for your PC, iPad, iPhone, Android or Kindle. Now only $2.99, get your copy here!