We propose that an organization increases all the good things—revenue, employee engagement and retention, productivity, customer loyalty and referrals—by acting ethically. We can even demonstrate that acting ethically makes a person happier. There’s some great stuff on the Internet telling us the 7, 15, 21 (however many) things that happy people do. Does that mean unless you do those 7, 15, 21 things, you will never be happy? I don't know, but that sounds like a crock.
While ethics are 100% choices, happiness functions as much by one's genetics as one's choices. Happiness researchers (darn right that's a thing) tell us that about half of the reason happy people are happy (and sad people are sad) comes from genetic predisposition and the other half from their choices. Much of what makes people happy or sad is out of their control. That’s right—it’s your parents’ fault (sorry, I could not resist that lame joke).
THAT’S NOT THE END OF THE STORY
The science tells us that half of a person's happiness or sadness is under their control. Even if you won the happiness gene lottery, you can throw yourself down a hole of sadness. Likewise, if you’re on the very sad gene end, you can control half the happiness in your life. If you woke up today finding yourself 3/4 sad, then getting 1/2 happy sounds pretty damn good.
There’s a very easy way to improve happiness by writing.
We work on ethics and are not therapists. Being ethical means caring about our clients, and it means our clients trust us. They tell us, without fail, that our advice on writing makes them feel happier.
We advise our clients to write three brief things each week. We find great power in these three.
- Challenges and victories as a way of reflecting on the past week’s ethical decisions. Clients can write anything; we ask them to write about their right and wrong choices.
- What they hope to hope to do that’s right (in the ethical sense).
- Every day, write two or three things they participated in that they’re grateful for.
In other words, keep a journal on the good stuff. Tracking what good or bad happened last week, what you hope for next week, and what you did that you’re grateful for makes you happier.
I believe it’s because we make it easier to do the right thing when we see the right things we’ve done.
As an organizational leader, you know that happier employees are better in every way. How can you make your workplace happier?