The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. The first report was published in 2012, the second in 2013, and the third on April 23, 2015. Leading experts across fields – economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, health, public policy and more – describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. The reports review the state of happiness in the world today and show how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness. They reflect a new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness as a criteria for government policy.
The world has come a long way since the first World Happiness Report launched in 2012. Increasingly happiness is considered a proper measure of social progress and goal of public policy. A rapidly increasing number of national and local governments are using happiness data and research in their search for policies that could enable people to live better lives. Governments are measuring subjective well-being, and using well-being research as a guide to the design of public spaces and the delivery of public services.
Harnessing Happiness Data and Research to Improve
The year 2015 is a watershed for humanity, with the pending adoption by UN member states of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September to help guide the world community towards a more inclusive and sustainable pattern of global development. The concepts of happiness and well-being are very likely to help guide progress towards sustainable development.
Sustainable development is a normative concept, calling for all societies to balance economic, social, and environmental objectives. When countries pursue GDP in a lopsided manner, overriding social and environmental objectives, the results often negatively impact human well- being. The SDGs are designed to help countries to achieve economic, social, and environmental objectives in harmony, thereby leading to higher levels of well-being for the present and future generations.
The SDGs will include goals, targets and quantitative indicators. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network, in its recommendations on the selection of SDG indicators, has strongly recommended the inclusion of indicators of Subjective Well-being and Positive Mood Affect to help guide and measure the progress towards the SDGs. We find considerable support of many governments and experts regarding the inclusion of such happiness indicators for the SDGs. The World Happiness Report 2015 once again underscores the fruitfulness of using happiness measurements for guiding policy making and for helping to assess the overall well-being in each society.
This paper describes a dynamic system for the interrelationships between happiness and health that considers three main attitudes to life: α, β, and γ for Aristotelian, Epicurean, and Stoic, respectively. All variables that have been shown by empirical and theoretical studies to affect individual health and happiness are included (i.e., employment, occupation, education, ethical freedom, equity in achievements).
Three main approaches are considered: behavioral and statistical ex-ante, and ex-post behavioral. A model is developed to rank the three attitudes in terms of health for a given happiness level, and consequently, provide insights into which attitude should be adopted by each individual, according to their characteristics: individuals in Protestant and non-Protestant Christian societies should adopt β and γ attitudes, respectively; educated individuals should adopt a γ attitude; and poor individuals should adopt an α attitude.
Based on this analysis, this paper provides insights into which attitude actually is adopted by each society by comparing predicted health and achievement levels with the observed life expectancy at birth and per capita gross domestic product levels in 107 countries, thus providing an empirical test of the analytical model.
This analysis revealed a prevalence of β attitudes in Protestant Developed Countries, with larger γ shares in less income-unequal countries; a prevalence of γ attitudes in non-Protestant Christian Developed Countries, with larger β shares in more income-unequal countries; a prevalence of α attitudes in Muslim Less Developed Countries, with larger γ shares in more educated countries; and a prevalence of β attitudes in more educated atheist and Jewish countries.
As a business leader, inspiring people to follow you in pursuit of your company’s mission is your job.
After all, your personal success is directly linked to the success of the company. If the top and bottom lines don’t improve, you don’t have a winning team. And if your culture and organization aren’t wired for sustainable growth, you won’t succeed.
That being said, you have to offer your employees — your company’s life source — something more than self-gain. You have to give them an encouraging vision and an identity. Once you do that, you become something bigger than yourself. You become a transformational leader, and your business becomes resilient.
Once you offer your employees an encouraging vision and an identity you become a transformative leaders, and your business becomes resilient.
THE NEW LEADER
The theory of transformational leadership actually began in politics. James MacGregor Burns, a political science professor and presidential biographer, introduced the concept.
He described it as a mutual, ongoing process in which leaders and followers (i.e., employees) raise each other up to achieve bigger and better goals. Transformational leaders drive their followers past the short-term goals to focus on higher-order needs.
If this sounds like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it’s because Burns actually drew influence from the famous psychologist. A transformational leader recognizes that his employees have needs that directly impact how they perform. Leaders who meet these needs will provide value, purpose, and meaning.
This idea turns leadership on its head. We’re unlocking a way of thinking that goes far deeper than numerical rankings on an annual performance appraisal. And those who have studied this concept have done so because it produces results. Ronald E. Riggio, a professor of organizational psychology, found that groups led by transformational leaders actually performed better and were more satisfied. This is because transformational leaders believe that their followers can perform, which empowers and inspires the group.
Sometimes it’s easier to see these qualities outside of the business world: Picture the football coach in the big game, the SEAL team leader on a dangerous mission, or the politician asking his constituents for sacrifice.
Transformational leaders believe that their followers can perform, which empowers and inspires the group.
But these lessons can easily be applied to your business. In my experience, transformational leadership inspires people to follow you in turbulent times, helps employees embrace the company’s values, and strengthens your working relationships. All of these things benefit the bottom line.
TAKE THE STEPS TOWARD TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP
Luckily, employing a transformational leadership style isn’t difficult. You can start by focusing on transformation over transactions, the whole human being, long-term relationships, and leading with a shared purpose.
However, if you’re ready to dive deep into transformational leadership, here are five things you can do:
Communicate constantly. Transformational leaders are always there to offer support and encouragement to their followers. Keep your company’s lines of communication open so your employees can share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. And make sure you actually listen to them.
Fulfill your employees’ needs. This relates to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Your employees are all human beings who need safety, security, respect, and recognition. When you fulfill those needs, your employees will perform better and be more loyal to your company.
Push your employees. Support your employees in everything they do, but also challenge the status quo and encourage them to explore new territory. Treat every day as a chance to learn something new.
Give employees context for their work. Transformational leaders have a clear vision for their companies and, more importantly, share that vision with their followers. Instill passion and motivation in your employees by giving them context for their work.
Be a “rouser.” A rouser is adaptable, innovative, goal-oriented, and committed to common objectives. He seeks outside opinions and has the inner strength to bring out the power in others. He is the kind of leader you should strive to be.
It’s easy to spend our days on activities, but if you and your employees don’t understand the purpose behind those activities, there’s a high likelihood that they’ll miss the mark. You need to step back from all the day-to-day distractions and think. Spend time deciding what your company stands for, and then view all business activities through that lens.
It’s important to be mindful about yourself, understand what’s relevant in your life and why, and enjoy life and work.
Being self-aware and understanding the best way to interact with others supports everything you do as a leader
If we don’t understand people — including ourselves — we can’t hope to run a successful business. Being self-aware and understanding the best way to interact with others supports everything you do as a leader. To put it more bluntly, all your efforts can be completely undermined if you can’t relate to others. Transformation isn’t just nice to have — it’s absolutely crucial.
In an uncertain time defined by rapid change, the word “resilience” has taken on new meaning. Resilience is no longer about simply fending off the occasional mishap; the ability to quickly adapt, recover and return reinvigorated is a constant requirement in the business world.
Resilient people tend to have what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”. They believe the actions they take will affect the outcome of an event. Another characteristic of resilience is the understanding that life is full of challenges. While business leaders cannot avoid many of these problems, they can remain open, flexible and willing to adapt to change.
Resilient people are also aware of the situation, their own emotional reactions and the behaviour of those around them. To manage feelings, it is essential to understand what is causing them and why.
Resilience can’t simply live in the boardroom, though. It needs to be instilled throughout every organization, from its culture and capabilities to its operational decisions and development. These skills can enable employers to take control of the present – and direct their futures.
Defining ‘whatever it takes’.
Many businesses extend themselves into areas that don’t complement the company mission. Then, they ignore signs that indicate that things aren’t going well — or even deny that a problem exists at all. When the problems can no longer be avoided, it’s often so late that they fail to recover. And this is my point: resilience is about adapting before a potential problem becomes a real problem. At its best, it’s proactive — it is about being a step ahead.
To avoid complacency, emotional decisions and ill-planned ventures, it’s important to always remember why the company is in business and what makes it different, and what are the main sources of revenue and sustainable growth. If leaders are prepared to do anything to get their businesses through a tough spot — including completely restructuring or realigning — they can turn a company around in almost any situation.
Building a more resilient business.
Strong corporate values matter. They provide a sense of shared purpose and keep people working together for the same goals. These values are especially important in uncertain times.
That is why it is essential as leaders to surround yourself with people who live by the same tenets you do — and the same strength, creativity and drive to succeed.
The following are some guidelines that resilient organizations use to grow a stronger, bolder group of employees for a stronger, bolder business.
Look after your people.
Minimizing stress is a key issue in the frantic, changing 21st century world. People under stress are not alert to what is happening around them, and they are prone to oversights and mistakes. Establish a network of mutual support in your company, so people do not feel isolated and know how to get help when they need it.
People need the strength to remain calm, focused and confident when handling crises. To do this effectively, they’ll need energy, drive, determination and conviction. Being positive, having clear goals and being open to new ideas and possibilities are essential to innovation – and making the right move for your company’s future.
Provide support and challenges.
Spend some time reassessing the way things are done in your business. Is there a better way of approaching an issue or completing a certain task? Ensure that your people will be able to respond to changes, including sudden crises, quickly, efficiently and successfully.
Find strong, resilient leaders.
People in senior roles need the experience, skills and behaviours to steer the company through difficult times, while also commitment and enthusiasm. Leaders need to be challenging, forward-thinking, open to new ideas and innovative – and they should encourage these attributes in others.
Value learning and experience.
Expose people to experiences that will equip them for dealing with unexpected, difficult situations. Experience is a great teacher; if individuals are used to dealing with difficult situations, they will be more comfortable with, and confident in, their ability to think logically and creatively when they encounter them in the workplace.
Put the right people in the right roles.
Resilience needs to be part of all succession decisions – and there is no substitute for a person’s actual record of achievement: the challenges they’ve faced and what they’ve learned. Remember, you’re not just hiring for today. You’re hiring to prepare your company for tomorrow.
Challenges require teamwork, all the way to the top. Trust, dependability and openness are essential, as are strong leadership and a realistic attitude. By working closely together, supporting each other, sharing ideas and spreading the workload, an overwhelming challenge will be less daunting, much easier to tackle and more successfully resolved.
People make the difference.
Turbulent markets bring opportunity and risk; companies need to call on all their resources to navigate such uncharted waters successfully. What matters, however, is that each individual believes that these issues — values, purpose, boldness, imagination and others — are important and interprets them in his or her own personal way. In fact, the most significant lesson for any business leader is to know that while structures, procedures, processes, and systems can all be improved, the true source of resilience is people. They are the reason companies succeed. Get that right, and you’ll weather any storm that comes your way.
The Ten Keys to Happier Living are based on a review of the latest research from psychology and related fields. Everyone’s path to happiness is different, but the evidence suggests these Ten Keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people’s happiness and well-being.
The first five keys (GREAT) are about how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities. They are based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed by nef as part of the Foresight Project. The second five keys (DREAM) come from inside us and depend on our attitude to life.
Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good! Read more…
Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness. Read more…
Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep! Read more…
Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day. Read more…
Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more. Read more…
Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them. Read more…
All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned. Read more…
Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty. Read more…
No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are. Read more…
People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves. Read more…
About the Ten Keys
The Ten Keys to Happier Living framework was jointly developed by Vanessa King and the Action for Happiness team in 2010, based on an extensive review of the latest research evidence relating to psychological/mental wellbeing.