When life is busy, it can be hard to find time to relax, let alone wonder whether we are happy or not. So it is good that the United Nations has an International Day of Happiness to remind us to pause, reflect and consider how we are feeling.
The date falls on March 20th and this year the theme is “Build Back Happier.” It is a particularly apt one given that we are all trying to recover from the stresses the pandemic has put us under over the past two years.
In many ways, Covid-19 has helped to bring people together and it is good to remember how we felt about being part of a community as we transition back to normal life again. We are nothing without the people around us.
Psychologists say that there are two key attributes to happiness: strong social ties and a sense of purpose. At THP, we try to ensure that our staff members feel both of them.
These two attributes form a key part of the seven Core Values, which we repeatedly highlight. They are explicitly stated in the fourth Core Value: “Nothing is Impossible.”
We try to emphasize that it is not just about having a positive attitude oneself, but also about helping others to realize the power of positivity too: “Help them to believe that they can make positive changes in any situation.”
Behaving in this way enables everyone to feel a sense of purpose and creates stronger, happier ties with colleagues. I try to live by these standards every day.
I also know that I am lucky. In my work life, I have the additional advantage of being able to make a positive impact alongside my father, mother and sister. I enjoy their support and they mine.
Thích Nhật Hanh, one of Vietnam’s most famous Buddhist philosophers has a good way of putting it: “if in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it.”
At the same time, I’ve always believed in the importance of understanding that no one can be happy all of the time. If you read social media, people seem to be living perfect lives, which is far from the reality.
It is one of the reasons why there are rising rates of anxiety and depression across the world. People look at social media and they find their own life wanting.
The best way to try and counter is by embracing unhappiness as a normal human emotion. At THP, we have a Nothing is Impossible spirit, but we tell people it is important to be honest about how they feel. Self-expression and authenticity enable people to feel their true selves and help the company to flourish too.
Both happiness and unhappiness flow down the same neural pathway in the brain: shut out one and you shut out the other. As the former Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, once said: “Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.”