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A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.Albert Einstein

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Happiness, a powerful performance driver

Happiness, a powerful performance driver

Happiness is not the consequence of success. Research in neuroscience shows rather the opposite: happiness is a success factor! How can we improve performance by cultivating happiness?


Promoting happiness at work—now that’s a naturally sensitive topic if there ever was one! The pursuit of happiness is an intimately personal thing. If you try to make your employees happy, aren’t you overstepping your bounds into their personal lives? More generally, how can a company legitimately force its employees to pursue such a thing? The Harvard Business Review article "The History of Happiness" recalls that the pursuit of happiness is far from being a universal value. Indeed, the notion that everyone can and should be happy has progressively risen in popularity since the eighteenth century, especially in the United States, where even today, it is a more marked social standard more than in many other parts of the world. What is more, considering happiness as a performance driver could ostensibly be construed as twisting a human value to serve pettily utilitarian purposes!

Yet, advances in neuroscience and psychological research encourage business organizations to take a closer look at the subject of happiness. Psychology has traditionally focused on psychological disorders and how to cure them. An assessment conducted in 1998 found that there are seventeen times more studies on psychological disorders than on well-being! Not until the end of the twentieth century was any serious consideration given to “positive psychology,” the branch of research devoted to understanding and promoting what makes us happy. These studies, based on recent advances in neuroscience, among others, provide a wealth of helpful information for managers and leaders:

- Be happy, and you will do well!

- Make deliberate efforts to feel happier.

- Cultivate positive feelings in your organization.

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