Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Happiness Challenge

The old management rule to measure what matters is a good one. The problem is that the stuff that matters is always the hardest to measure, but we can’t let that stop us. Let’s measure up, rather than measure down.

With the launch of Saatchi & Saatchi S earlier this year, the challenge of relevant, sensible and practical measurements for a sustainable world has been on my mind. Adam Werbach is CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S and he recently gave a speech at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. Birth of Blue covers a lot of ground and has attracted a lot of attention, but there is a simple idea at the heart of it that I love. The dream of happy people contributing to a healthy planet. We have metrics for the healthy planet part, but we are still inventing how you measure happiness and we are still working out how to increase it. A recent article reported a study showing that in spite of a significant raise in their standard of living, people were no happier than they were 30 years ago. So while we’ve got measures of our living standards running out our ears, as happens so often, we seem to be pointing in the wrong direction.

Here are four factors that can help make us happier.

1) Be of service to something larger than yourself. I often draw on a great thought from philosopher Daniel Dennett: “The secret of happiness is to find something bigger than yourself and then to devote your life to it.”

2) To experience “flow,” or full engagement, on a regular basis. This is one of the fundamentals of Peak Performance. Flow happens when people are unleashed and inspired against the Dream. And what a Dream the aspiration to make the world a better place is!

3) To show your gratitude to the people in your life. Simple, direct and action-focused. If we all followed that one sentence, the self-help publishing industry could pack up and go home to look after its own friends and family.

4) To have at least three people who are emotionally close enough to share your life with. And if you’re lucky, it might be more than three.