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Happiness is
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Society teaches us that happiness is a result, something you achieve or gain through accomplishments.

But a growing body of scientific research shows the opposite. Happiness is a state of mind, an attitude that can be nurtured and nourished regardless of external factors.

In fact, science demonstrates that people who are happy first are more successful later on: they have more energy and show more passion. And their enthusiasm is contagious. This is the foundational idea behind Dr. Jay Kumar: happiness matters now.

We unleash the passion of individuals, teams, customers and others by helping them put happiness first. We harness happiness to make a difference in lives, in businesses—and in the world.

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Signpost "Emerging Markets"Happiness can be measured not only at a company level but a country level, and as everyone in business knows, you manage what you measure. National leaders and Economists are increasingly talking about measuring a country’s status with other metrics – even an airy concept like “happiness.”

Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK caused quite a stir in recent years by unveiling plans to measure national well-being by creating a National Happiness Index to provide quarterly measures of how people feel.

Many things of value in life cannot be fully captured by GDP, but they can be measured by metrics of health, education, political freedom, and such. So although the replacing-GDP discussion may seem a little abstract, its growing credibility in important circles could give it a real impact on economic policy. Boardrooms across the globe are also making efforts to use new metrics to measure overall success. So it would seem the concept of “Happynomics” is something worth exploring.

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Business People Holding Bar GraphEmerging research from neuroscience, psychology, and economics makes the link between a thriving workforce and better business performance absolutely clear.  The bottom line is – a company with a happy workforce is a motivated workforce, which drives profits and company success.  Not only does happiness breed loyalty to the company, an individual’s happiness at work will create happiness throughout all areas of their life.

An annual review on employee happiness and satisfaction shows that the most content workers in the U.S credit their happiness to 10 key factors.  Work-life balance ranks highest, along with one’s relationship with boss and co-workers, the work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and job control over daily work.

Find out who the movers and shakers are on the list of America’s top 50 happiest companies honoring the top companies – as voted for by their own employees – dedicated to creating happier work environments.

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friends at the funfairResearch indicates that in general, people are made happier by spending money with the intention of acquiring life experiences than by spending money with the intention of acquiring material possessions.  What does that mean, exactly?  The material possession, in other words, seems like a better investment. But when it comes to increasing our happiness and sense of well-being, research suggests just the opposite.

According to a growing body of social science research, the best way to increase the enjoyment, satisfaction and general happiness of your loved ones (not to mention office mates) is to give them real-life experiences.  All you need is a reasonable sense of what your intended gift recipients like (or might like) to do with their time. Depending on the gift-receiver in question, it could mean almost any kind of in-person activity, adventure, or escapade, from concert tickets to restaurant meals, from guitar or cooking lessons to museum or amusement park passes, from rafting trips to factory tours to island getaways. “The happiness we get from our experiences give us more enduring pleasure.”

So before you rush out to the mall to purchase the latest electronic gadget for the kids, or a new sweater for your great aunt, consider giving an experiential gift.  Even better if you are able to participate in the experience with your loved one!

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Business people at a presentation, clappingGratitude has been defined as a warmly or deeply appreciative attitude for kindnesses or benefits received. But gratitude is not just a “feel good” emotion when it comes to work life. It can benefit a company in many ways. When an employee believes his or her superiors are grateful for his or her work, the employee will benefit by having an improved sense of worth to the organization. This improved sense of worth can lead to performance improvement, thereby benefiting the organization.

Grateful behavior can facilitate positive interpersonal and community relationships that may in turn influence other key outcomes. Effectively applied in the workplace, for instance, gratitude may positively impact such factors as job satisfaction, loyalty, and citizenship behavior, while reducing employee turnover and increasing organizational profitability and productivity.

Grateful individuals report higher levels of life satisfaction and optimism and greater energy and connections with other people. Here are few strategies for expressing gratitude to help you get ahead at work.

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Thanksgiving quoteScientists now recognize that gratitude is one of the most powerful and healthiest of human emotions. Studies at University of Miami, UC Davis, and other universities successfully demonstrate that remembering to be grateful for what we have in life can greatly outweigh any sadness, stress, or challenges we might currently experience. In fact, new studies of the brain from neuropsychology show that gratitude is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to experience overall wellbeing.

So, how exactly does gratitude make us happy and healthy?

A 2009 study by the National Institutes of Health placed participants in fMRI machines to measure blood flow in the brain. The volunteers were told to engender feelings of gratitude. Those participants who felt the emotion of gratitude experienced more activity in the brain’s hypothalamus than those in the test group who did not. An active hypothalamus is helpful since it regulates sleep, digestion and metabolism. More importantly, the study concluded that people who regularly express gratitude are less susceptible to anxiety and stress.

Gratitude also has a powerful social benefit. It helps us to feel more connected to others. Just saying the simple words “Thank you” can lift us out of our own individual concerns and serve to remind us of the joy and happiness that others bring to in our life. Expressing gratitude not only benefits the recipient of our appreciation, but oneself.

However you choose to celebrate this Thanksgiving holidays, remember to give thanks and cultivate an attitude of gratitude for all the abundance in your life!

To learn more about the powerful healing benefits of gratitude and practical tools for developing greater health and happiness, please enjoy my e-book The Five Secrets for Achieving Authentic Health and Happiness.

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Unlocking your mindMany emerging studies have made one thing very clear;  the human brain is a social organ.  Its neurological and physiological responses are directly and profoundly influenced by social interaction.

Most of us experience work as an economic transaction where we exchange labor for financial compensation. The brain, however, experiences the workplace as a social system. The five social qualities that are required to minimize dysfunction in the workplace are: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.

1) Status – status does not have to directly relate to title or income.  For example, the perception of status increases when people are simply given praise.
2) Certainty – people crave certainty.  Not knowing what will happen next can be profoundly debilitating because it requires extra neural energy.
3) Autonomy – when an employee experiences a lack of control, the perception of uncertainty is aroused.
4) Relatedness – the human threat response is aroused when people feel rejected, or cut off from social interaction.
5) Fairness – the perception that an event has been unfair generates a strong response in the brain, stirring hostility and undermining trust.

People who feel betrayed or unrecognized at work such as when any of the five social qualities are threatened  — will experience these things as a neural impulse. Not only does the employee’s brain become much less efficient, the ensuing reaction is usually to internalize feelings, and consequently limit commitment and engagement at work. They become purely transactional employees, reluctant to give more to the company.

Leaders who have the ability to intentionally address the social brain in the service of optimal performance will be able to create an environment that supports collaboration, fosters productive change, and effectively engages an employee’s individual talents.

Read more on the social brain at work.

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Postcard.jpgIf you’re looking to manage stress and benefit from greater happiness at work, school, or home, click on the image to discover five proven, science-based tools that can help you start tuning in to and boosting your brain’s built-in “H-spot”.

What exactly is your H-spot?  It’s an area in your brain known as the left pre-frontal cortex—located just above the left eye—that brain research suggests is the locus of happiness.

Whether you call it happiness, wellbeing, or engagement, it’s affirming to know that science research supports how we all are capable of developing these empowering qualities. Learn more about your H-spot and the unharnessed potential of the brain in Dr. Jay’s e-book  “Five Secrets for Achieving Authentic Health & Happiness.

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Pleasure Fades Happiness Endures

“Pleasure has a limited shelf life; happiness has no expiration date.” (Click to Tweet)

It might be surprising to discover that science now affirms — the quest for authentic happiness begins within.

While pleasure comes and goes, happiness is a feeling that is long lasting. Think of happiness as an emotional and spiritual quality while pleasure is physical and sensory.  Too often, TV, film and glossy magazines present happiness as leading the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Of course, one only need watch an episode of the “Real Housewives” to witness that purchasing a sports car, designer gown or mansion does not guarantee happiness!

So why do so many of us seek pleasure over happiness? It’s what our society tells us to do.  We are bombarded with commercials, billboards and movies that reinforce the falsehood that money and materialism will make us happy.  Consumer culture and conspicuous consumption may boost the economy, but it doesn’t boost our happiness.

Happiness can certainly be influenced by external situations and circumstances in our life: a beautiful home, a good education or a loving family, but genuine, “absolute” happiness can flourish within us independently of any of these. Pleasure, on the other hand, is entirely dependent on a specific experience, at a specific time and specific place.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying pleasure. It is wired into our biology. The problem happens when seeking pleasure becomes a way of life. Too often our search for pleasure is a form of escapism, a coping mechanism or addiction that eventually sabotages our happiness.

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Quote of the Week

“No external conditions are required for happiness. Happiness is who you are!” —Dr. Jay Kumar