By George Foster, CEO, Foster Marketing
The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 film and true story about a struggling, on-again, off-again homeless salesman who takes care of his 5-year-old son while trying to make something of himself as a stockbroker. In the movie, Will Smith played Christopher Gardner, now a successful stockbroker and entrepreneur.
In a voice over, Gardner describes some of his more troubling times as: “This part of my life … this part right here? This part is called ‘being stupid’.” Later he says, “This part of my life is called ‘internship’ as he learned the investment business; and finally as he succeeded,” he said, “This part of my life … this part right here? This is called ‘happyness’.” In the film, “happiness” is misspelled as “happyness” outside the daycare facility Gardner’s son attends.
Happiness a Hot Topic
These days happiness and its pursuit are hot topics. It seems like every day I see an article on happiness. Titles include: “Surprising Secrets from the World’s Happiest People”, “6 Ways to Feel Happier, Be Healthier”, “Can You Learn to Be Happy?” or, just, “Are You Happy?” And, at church recently, the pastor announced an upcoming series of sermons titled Happy People. Happiness is hot!
How does being happy affect us as marketers, business owners and employees? I’ve always told employees that we want happy campers working for Foster Marketing. Additionally, we want happy clients. Ultimately, however, we can’t make clients and employees happy. We can satisfy them or please them, but happiness comes from within — an inherent quality in ones’ being. It is actually the pursuit of happiness that unconsciously implies that we are not happy and so dissatisfaction with ones’ perceived sense of unhappiness arises.
Research conducted by Harvard professor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar showed that “happiness largely depends on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. It depends upon what we choose to focus on (the full or empty part of the glass) and on our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic or do we see it as a learning opportunity?”
He goes on to say that, “one of the most common barriers to happiness is the false expectation that one thing — a promotion at work, a prize, a revelation — will bring us external bliss.” Pursuing a list of things/desires that you think will make you happy (something you already are, regardless of whether or not it’s realized) will only provide you with a very temporary sense of pleasure or happiness.
So, What Makes Us Happy?
Dr. Ben-Shahar says “we must first accept that this is it! All there is to life is the day-to-day, the ordinary, the details of the mosaic. We are living a happy life when we derive pleasure and meaning from spending time with our loved ones or learning something new.
“The other significant component of happiness is that helping oneself and helping others are intertwined. The more we help others, the happier we become … and the happier we become, the more inclined we are to help others.”
Don’t Worry, Be Happy!
While happiness comes from within, there are many common things a person can do to improve his or her state of happiness according to the experts:
- Simplify. We try to squeeze more and more activities into less time, says Dr. Ben-Shahar. Dan Buettner, who wrote the book Thrive, spent five years talking to people in areas identified as the world leaders in happiness — Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula; Singapore; Nuevo Leon, Mexico; and San Luis Obispo, Calif. His advice: own one TV, no more; and, stop shopping as the satisfaction we get from buying things wears off in 14 months.
- Get involved. Spend time with family and friends. Make new friends. Each new friend that you make (assuming that they’re upbeat) increases your chance of being happy by 9%, Buettner says. Volunteer and help others as mentioned earlier. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, men and women who volunteer report greater life satisfaction and better physical health than non-volunteers.
- Appreciate life. Head for the great outdoors. Physical exercise and increased stamina associated with being outdoors yield important benefits as people get more sedentary. People in sunnier climates are consistently happier than those who live in northern countries. Finally, keep the faith. Religious people tend to be happier than those without faith.
- Get a pet. Pets provide more than companionship and a warm welcome home. They lend a willing and helpful ear — even if they have fins or feathers instead of fur. An astonishing 97% of dog and cat owners reported they talk to their pets, notes Alan Beck, director of the Center of the Human Animal Bond at Purdue University. “The other 3% lied,” he quips. I can attest to that as I run my newsletters past Billy Ray Cyrus, the Cairn terrier that I rescued last December.
The ideas above can help make the world look better. Add them to your life, and odds are you’ll feel both happier and healthier.
Foster Marketing can help you simplify your life by taking the weight of your marketing efforts off your shoulders. We work as proactive partners with our clients to meet all deadlines and achieve results.