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Six Rules to Stay Happy at Work

Below is a guest blog by BR-ND’s Alexander Koene, member at Spaces and host of the Positive Action Behaviour Workshop on April 14th.

Everybody at some time, feels a need to know about the purpose of life. Why am I here? What role am I to play? Why should I suffer? How can I make my life happier? Probably we all sometimes dwell on these questions, but it seems there are no easy answers. The search for finding purpose and happiness in our little lives, seems intrinsic to our human needs. Don’t we all deserve a meaningful life? Don’t we all deserve happiness at work?

When I was a young man, I thought that I could give meaning to my life by striving for material wealth, a jet set lifestyle, a successful career. And that’s what motivated me to work hard, earn a degree in business administration and cleverly manoeuver my way up to the higher ranks on the corporate ladder. A bigger bank account, a bigger house, a bigger car, a bigger family and a bigger wife was the result. At hindsight it comes as no surprise that all this material wealth did not lead to a happier life. In the end it felt shallow and empty. And worse, on the way I lost the love for the love-of-my-life as well.

True happiness is many things to many people and no single definition seems to hold. Some people think about happiness as the enjoyment of simple hedonistic virtues. Others think about spiritual meaning, connection and love. In the end I believe the search for happiness is  the driving energy for all our behaviors.

My life is a cliché. As I went through my midlife phase, I became interested in psychology, sociology and philosophy. Questions like why do we do the crazy things we do and what is the true meaning of love and attraction caught my attention. Frantically I studied all scientific evidence  published in the field of human drives, motivations and emotions. This knowledge enriched my understanding and it also changed my personal aspirations and goals. No longer am I driven by bigger, by more.

I started appreciating the value of true mental connection with like minded people. As I left the corporate ladder – around the turn of the century – and started giving shape to a branding consultancy in the decade that followed, I increasingly resisted working with colleagues who were not my close friends.  Also I became aware that creative juices flow so much better in beautiful surroundings. And that people can only bloom if they are physically and mentally in top shape. I discovered that money is the wrong motive. It leads to the wrong decisions, as we all have witnessed over the last couple of years.

My personal journey to an inspired and meaningful life has provided me with some basic ‘happy’ behaviors. At BR-ND we try to live by these rules every day. I believe these behaviors are pretty much universal. Every person, team and organization would benefit is they would pursue them. I am always amazed when I start working for a client that these basics are not in place. How can teams deprived from happy behavior ever be successful? How can brands without happy energy ever be attractive?

To summarize these ‘happy’ rules:

  • Discover your personal and team purpose. Do this together and realize it is a process. Don’t let yourself be squeezed into some sort of corporate mission and value statement, which you don’t believe in nor have been part of. We are talking personal human feelings here. Why do you exist and why is this important? What are you fighting for and what beliefs do you stand for? How do you jointly want to impact the world around you?
  • Select people around you who are or can become your true friends. Teams will never flourish is there is no emotional connection, interest and understanding. Focus on the talents, not the tasks or competences. We talk loving connections, empathy and personal growth here.
  • Create a culture with more than sufficient space to dream, investigate, create, destroy and reconstruct. Without clear deliverables. Unleash that child inside you. Go play!
  • Eat together and make sure you taste what you eat. Warm meals are even better. Seek variety in your nutrition. Don’t go for factory made foods, but take the effort to prepare and enjoy meals together.
  • Get fit together. Make it practice to participate jointly in regular sports activities. Daily exercise makes instantly happy and if you do this together the team gets even stronger connected. Decide, commit, act. Sports is fun and instantly boosts happiness.
  • Make sure the place you work in is beautiful. Paint the walls in nice colors and get fresh flowers. How about smell and music? We talk aesthetics here.

With these ‘happy’ rules in place I promise you it will be so much easier to pursue operational effectiveness. Interested in seeing these behaviors in practice? Join BR-ND for the positive action behaviour workshop on April 14th.

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