I have just been reading an interview between Daniel Pink and Tom Rath (see below for ref.), both are well know authors and thought leaders and it stimulated me to express a thought of my own. Tom is quoted as saying “I’m increasingly convinced that the “pursuit of happiness” is not only misguided, but potentially damaging. Most people should stop chasing their own happiness today and do something that improves the life of another human being instead”.
I disagree. I have so often found that happiness is a decision we take in the moment or in my case, at the beginning of each day. Now maybe I am especially privileged and cannot comment on the misery suffered by many millions, but the simple act of deciding helps me to look out on my situation in an optimistic way, whilst realising that life doesn’t always go my way. By knowing (deciding consciously) that I am happy, it helps me stop chasing happiness and be more content with what I have already and always have had life full of potential.
Having said this, I have been drawn to the practice of ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ taught to me by Ian McDermott many years ago and this falls I think into the realm of what Tom is talking about and is so beautifully illustrated in the film ‘Pay it Forward’. When I was asked by Ian, to do random acts of kindness (RAK’s) I discovered the sheer joy I could experience in making a difference to someone else, even a simple act, such as helping two lost German people on a train station to figure out how to get to Heathrow from Kings Cross, caused me to reflect that this was a R.A.K. and also a random act of selfishness, as I also benefited and was definitely happier as a result. How much more then when we do something truly significant?
Wellness is an increasingly interesting area of management training, the business I am in and have found happiness in for 27 years. I wonder at the effect that would be seen in organisations if more people set about to improve the lives of their colleagues, rather than pursuing their own happiness, the random act of kindness has a habit of pay back as well as pay forward, a win: win with little cost.
I could write much more on this, in talking about Wellness, Management and Happiness, but feel I should leave it here for now. I wanted to stimulate further thought and many random acts, so let me know what you thought for good or ill, as I will learn from both!
Stimulation and references – I have tried to enable you to gain quick access to these people and have used Amazon as the simplest method of access to their written work, I trust this will help.
Tom Rath has written the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 and now Are You Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life – the source of the original quote I used.
Daniel Pink has written many books, including Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us. The quote was taken from his regular blog http://www.danpink.com/
Ian McDermott is the founder of ITS training and one of the most fabulous teachers I have ever learned from.