If you’re happy/satisfied/fulfilled, you’ll do your best work. So, if you want to improve your performance, work out how to increase your happiness.
This article pulls together a series of posts that provide simple ways to do that:
My favourite is inspired by JK Rowling and her Harry Potter books: they have lots of powerful images of ways to develop a powerful Patronus to thwart your own Dementors: Magical Ways to Maximise Happiness.
Children are the experts at happiness (before they are conditioned to worry and fear failure). As the famous philosopher said, “A person’s maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child at play”: Childish Ways to Maximise Happiness.
The best expression of the key to high performance is – strange to say – in the film Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. Sam and Donna are in a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea when Donna expresses words that provide the solution to life’s most challenging problems.
We live in a complex world. Much of what we face in our daily lives appears so difficult to understand, so complicated to explain and so hard to achieve. Yet, every day people do amazing things, often incredibly complex things.
I was recently in Morocco admiring the beautiful, exquisitely ornate and symmetrical tiles. The craftsmanship to design and then execute such a complicated pattern is impressive. Outside one palace I saw a chap producing a similar series of tableaux, as intricate as any in the finest palace, as you can see from the photo. Despite the complexity of the design, it was clearly something he found relatively easy. And that got me thinking. There must be a simple process behind the bewilderingly complex design. There must be a way to reduce that complexity to a combination of regular patterns which, once you know them, would allow generations of Moroccan tilers to produce them with ease.
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato believed that humans were born with perfect knowledge, but somehow forgot it all at birth. So acquiring knowledge later in life is actually recollecting things we already knew.
I remember thinking this was absurd when I first read it (at school where I appeared to be learning all sorts of things that seemed to be totally new). But, as time goes by, I increasingly think that he has a point.
I am currently working with an Indian media company. In the newsroom I saw a notebook with these words on the outside:
The creative adult is the child who survived.
This got me thinking. The amazing thing about the people who work in that newsroom is how incredibly hard they work. They are a business channel covering the ruckus of the Bombay Stock Exchange in a roller coaster of live output with flashing tickers, graphics and logos. Every moment there is a breaking “flash” as another company releases its results, or a stock price “tanks” or “spikes”. But despite working very long hours and under great pressure, they seem happy – childishly happy – not that they are in any way childish themselves (they are utterly seasoned professionals). They are childishly happy in the way that a child is happy when totally engrossed in his or her play: demonstrating utter concentration and dedication, and a sense of fun and enjoyment. It’s wonderful to see. Continue reading “Childish ways to maximise happiness”
We know that smiling into a mirror kicks off chemical reactions that make us feel happy. But listening to happy music is more powerful and much more fun. So in honour of #WorldSmileDay, here are my top 5 tunes to make you happy:
As Bobby McFerrin wisely says, “In every life, we have some trouble. When you worry, you make it double. Don’t Worry. Be Happy!” Whistle along!
Or actually Sing A Song, particularly one with a base line like this one. “Smile, smile, smile and believe. Sing a song. It’ll make your day.”
OK, While My Guitar Gently Weeps may not sound like the happiest song. But the pure genius of Prince (guitar solo at 3’28) sends shivers up my spine and makes me smile with delight. And the way he chucks his guitar away at the very end is hilariously brilliant. Trust me!
Now we need some dancing too and no happy list would be complete without James Brown’s I Feel Good. If you can match his footwork, you’ll be smiling all day. (With a bonus intro from Ed Sullivan.)
Happy World Smile Day. [Sorry Pharrell – you’d make the top 10 for sure!]
When your goal is to achieve confident leadership, so the saying goes, there’s no magic wand. You cannot suddenly become a great leader and remain one forever. It’s a journey not a destination. And even if you do have a magic wand, it’s still a challenge. There are no super spells that Harry Potter and his friends can cast to solve their confidence issues. (The books would be pretty dull and short if they did!) But JK Rowling provides them with useful ways to confont their deepest fears. And they provide us muggles with powerful images: magical ways we can use to maximise our performance.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Professor Remus Lupin introduces his defence against the dark arts class to the Boggart. Here is the scene in the excellent film produced by Warner Bros. Entertainment.