Can happiness be bought?

It turns out that whoever said that money does not buy happiness was wrong.

Money can buy happiness, for example, if you give it away or use it to buy an experience rather than a product.

Research to date has been unable to show definitively that rich people are happier than the less rich but certain studies seem to indicate that this is effectively the case.

According to the researchers behind the Princeton study, well-being — or the pleasure derived from daily experiences — no longer increases when your household reaches an income level of US$75,000.

That said, “assessment of your life” or how you feel with regard to your life and your accomplishments, can continue to grow at higher levels of income and education.

Happiness and energy

The productivity of happy people is explained by their capacity to recognise that their level of energy depends not only on their physical state (illness, fatigue, etc.) but also on their psychological state. People are happy quite simply because they think they are capable of being happy.

Subjective vitality increases when the psychological requirements of independence, skill and belonging are fulfilled.

Remember the role independence plays with regard to energy levels; compare, for example, the effect of an action originating from an independent decision or an action subject to an outside demand on our thinking or behaviour.

While independent behaviour may maintain or increase the level of energy, controlled behaviour tends to lower it. As a manager, this means that giving more latitude to associates may improve their feeling of well-being and perhaps their productivity as well.

A study made it possible to note that when patients in a weight-loss clinic are motivated to follow a treatment for external reasons, they show less vitality than those who are there for reasons determined independently.

This clearly shows that intrinsic motivation increases the level of subjective vitality and the perceived level of energy. We also retain that independence can generate feelings of energy and well-being. In conclusion, if you want to raise your energy level and that of your associates, make sure you delegate the power of decision to them for their own tasks.

Happiness and confidence

The level of confidence in a working environment serves to predict its level of happiness, the economist John F. Helliwell tells us. Helliwell decided to conduct an economic analysis of well-being and discovered a number of factors that influence happiness. The nature of the work leads the way obviously but direct contact between colleagues and with management has a considerable impact.
It is nevertheless not as simple as just saying “trust me.” Several politicians have made it next to impossible to believe in this formula! Trust has to be shown by behaviour, ideally, outside dedicated sessions.

One of the actions that obtains a high score in perceived trust is encouraging common involvement throughout the organisation, from bottom to top.

These ideas must come from the members of the organisation themselves. Since trust is established by collective action, this decision can not come from senior management. Collective action embodies two other key elements of well-being: commitment and efficiency. This is why voluntary assignments are useful, they make it possible to work together in a different context.

Trust is asymmetric however. Once lost, it is difficult to win back. There are undoubtedly many workplaces in which the people are aware of the low level of trust and the scale of investment required to repair the harm done.
Remember that all human beings must enter into a relationship sooner or later. If it is impossible to use this time of connection to create a positive, shared commitment, the time will be lost in internal political conflicts. The connection is made but the result is not the same!

Happiness and creativity

“Reverse the happiness and success formula. We think we will happier by working harder and achieving a goal but research shows that each success changes what the brain perceives as a success. If, for you and your team, happiness is the opposite of success, you will never get there. However, if you improve your level of happiness during a difficult period — by seeking an investment in an unfavourable economic context for example — the level of success increases considerably.” – Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage

The key elements of the creative personality, such as the search for novelty and perseverance, are good indicators of satisfaction. This works both ways: we tend to be more creative when we are predisposed, possibly because we do not concentrate on partial information but rather on the overall view. A study showed that happy doctors diagnose twice as fast! – Rowe & Hirsch, 2007.

“Committing to a creative quest allows individuals to explore their identity, cultivate their skills and reflect on the state of the world in a critical manner. In their turn, this self-knowledge and these relationships serve as sources of strength and resilience.” – Paul Silvia, University of North Carolina.

Laughter at work

Recent studies have revealed that laughter can contribute to your health and performance at work by stimulating your immune system, increasing blood circulation, and reducing stress for a period lasting up to 45 minutes. Ten minutes of laughter burn approximately 50 calories, which lets you eat another biscuit (a small one)! Not forgetting the social benefits of laughter: better communication, team work, creation of links and mitigation of conflicts!

Introducing pleasure at work is not new. The President of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, well-known for his light approach to business, proposing to resolve a legal matter with an arm-wrestling match (which he won) or arriving at work dressed like Elvis. The ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s has what it calls its “Joy Gang,” a group of employees who encourage the organisation of amusing activities such as spontaneous theatre plays or theme meals. Richard Branson, the prolific founder of Virgin, places his employees at the centre of his business strategy; he operates according to the following formula: happy employees make happy clients.

Even if your company does not have systems such as these, do not forget to have fun at work and laugh more to achieve real satisfaction at work and really love what you are doing.

Daniel Lacombe, Senoir Consultant, Sage Consulting
Béatrice Loubier, Instructional Designer, Novaconcept, Québec

Sources : Freakonomics, The Guardian,,, The New York Times, Huffington post