David Reyero – Humannova – September 2015
Positive Attitude: a key factor for a full personal and professional life
Every year, I detect that September and January are typically “depressive” months in Western society, with the “post-holiday syndrome” and the “hard month of January” respectively. Such situations affect 30% to 50% of people, according to a number of studies.
In relation to this, I perceive that such depressiveness is increasing beyond the specific business cycle, and this is upheld by certain data. Depression is a common mental disorder which affects more than 350 million people worldwide and is expected to go on the rise (from 20 to 30% in first-world population, adding to the “bad stress” which, according to various studies, has an impact on 70%/80% of the population of some countries).
This deep personal unhappiness also has a high cost both socially and in terms of productivity: mental health consumes 20% of health expenditure in the European Union, around 4% of the GDP of the EU (182,000 million euros) and causes 45% to 55% of absenteeism in the workplace.
However, and in contrast, I have also found that returning to work is a source of great enthusiasm for a substantial number of people, regardless of their nationality, age, position or socio-economic level.
The aim of the present article is to shed light on two aspects that have always interested me:
1. What are the determining factors of happiness and positive attitude, which are key aspects for a fulfilling professional and personal life and
2. Why is there no correlation between income levels and happiness (there are even societies with a high economic level and poor overall levels of satisfaction).
It has been increasingly demonstrated, both scientifically and in numerous case studies, that embracing the concept of happiness as a central aspect in business management is not a matter of “do-goodism”, but rather of commitment, productivity and sustainable profitability.
In Spain there are consultants and senior managers who have been pioneers in this aspect. Santiago Vazquez (HR Manager of R Cable Gallego) has made happiness a key factor in company management, with great success both economically and in terms of employee loyalty (http://ow.ly/Ryr6V) and Santiago Garcia (an associate of Jakobsland) promotes happiness management through the rigorous methodology which the iOpener Institute has implemented in numerous multinationals worldwide (http://ow.ly/RFRiu).
Internationally, serious and demanding organizations such as NASA include, in the difficult process of astronaut selection, an “optimism coefficient” as a predictor of success, and there are several international studies showing the link between happiness and an increase of over 10% in productivity (http://ow.ly/Ryu3P).
The Decalogue of a Happy Employee
In my practical experience, I have identified two important elements in this specific area:
- (a) A big difference in performance and positive atmosphere, both in good and difficult times, between having a mentally and emotionally strong team and a “depressive team”.
- (b) The growing importance of a positive attitude in today’s complex and precarious world, in which there are numerous temptations to resort to complaint and defeatism and to adopt the role of victim instead of being the protagonists of our own lives.
Here is my overall vision as to the aspects that distinguish a happy employee and which I believe should be linked to the main policies of people management in order to create an optimistic working environment.
This personal experience is in line with various gurus who focus on optimism, enthusiasm and happiness. It has been both rewarding and inspiring for me over the past few months to delve into their teachings. Here is a summary showing some of their most interesting reflections.
Rafael Santandreu, one of Spain’s leading psychologists and author of the books “The Art of Not Making Our Lives Miserable” and “The Glasses of Happiness” – http://ow.ly/RyraN
- It is very difficult to become stressed and make our lives miserable. You have to work at it and be highly focused.
- The ability to love (both other people and life) is the one necessary quality to have a vibrant and wonderful life.
- The keys to happiness are inside you and do not depend on external factors: not complaining, valuing what you have and making the most of opportunities in your life.
- A mentally strong human being has no “need pathology”: he or she requires very little to be happy and to enjoy every little thing.
- Increasing your happiness changes your mindset: it switches from a focus on “demands” to a focus on “preferences”
Victor Kuppers, lecturer and author of the book “Live a Meaningful Life”- http://ow.ly/Ryrgh
- Things are what they are and not what we would like them to be. We will never be able to do anything to change the circumstances, but we can always choose our attitude.
- We are “light bulbs with legs”. There are people who live with lots of light and others whose lights are turned off. It all depends on their individual attitude.
- The determination to live a happier life: Enjoy yourself, be thankful, don’t complain, be enthusiastic, help others, spread joy, take care of the people you most love.
- The value of a person = (knowledge + skill)* attitude. Star-players are distinguished from rankers not so much for what they know as for what they do.
- The five Ps that motivate human beings: principles, power, prestige, pleasure and payslip, but only principles bring true lasting happiness.
Emilio Duró, lecturer specializing in optimism and enthusiasm – http://ow.ly/RyriE
- I have never seen anyone devoted to helping others who is not happy or anyone selfish who is happy.
- Your “coefficient of optimism” will decisively influence your personal happiness and professional success
- The biggest problem we have today is the lack of passion.
- Educate your children to love and be enthusiastic. All that really matters in life is chosen with the heart and through rationality.
- We have never lived better than now, but we are used to blaming others for what happens to us and what we should do is to take control of our own lives.
Luis Galindo, conferenciante y autor del libro “Reilusionarse”- http://ow.ly/Ryrjs
- Do not be mean with your life and believe in yourself with such force that the world will believe in you too.
- Attitude is the factor that multiplies ability. When you change your attitude, it changes your present and your future.
- Resignation is to die a little every day and we must replace it with self-commitment and be constructively demanding.
- Cultivate gratitude for life as this is an aspect that differentiates the happiest people.
- Put all your heart, mind and soul in everything you do. This is the secret of your success. When the situation is difficult, we must face it with double enthusiasm.
In synthesis, I share the inspiring vision on “intelligent optimism” as described by Martin Seligman, one of the pioneers of positive thinking as a source of happiness (http://ow.ly/RzGpQ): “”It is the ability to observe reality with objectivity, not losing out on even a minute to complain about what is not going well, looking for what we can do to achieve improvement and, of course, not taking for granted or avoiding what is good and positive, but rather being thankful for it and valuing it.” To adopt it as a vital attitude is what will help us to better manage our past, present and future””.
Focusing on the professional level, this article clearly shows that there are solid arguments to consider that “happiness at work” is not a passing fad in the world of business management. Numerous reports and success stories show that the optimistic attitude of a team will be one of the most difficult competitive advantages to copy in an environment of increasing lack of commitment and growing depressiveness. This will be one of the keys to success in the best organizations of the 21st century with a view to building a strong professional brand image and to achieving productivity and sustainable profitability.
David Reyero Trapiello – Senior HR Business Partner – Sanofi Iberia – e-mail: email@example.com / Twitter: @davidreyero73 / Linkedin: es.linkedin.com/in/reyerodavid