Let me start by saying I am a firm believer in helping people be happy but what I call ‘realistic happiness'. Furthermore I really do believe it's a positive step to for workplaces, governments and schools to focus on happiness. After all Laughology runs the National Happiness Awards. Though we also believe its ok not to be happy and that chasing happiness or the pressure to feel you have to be happy all the time can have negative effects. As an expert in the field of happiness and cognitive psychology I'm a firm believer in not hiding away from other emotions. Sadness, anger, anxiety, stress as well as joy and happiness are all part of the human condition. You cannot experience happiness and joy without experiencing other emotions too. For example the work we do at laughology. Over the years laughology has grown which is very exciting but also scary. Growing a business means greater responsibility and to put it bluntly more bills and at times anxiety and stress. So why do it? As a business owner I find great purpose in my role, helping and developing others in organisations as well as working with and developing the great people who are part of the Laughology team. I’ve learnt to cope with stress and not just cope but see it as a helpful emotion for making me get stuff done. I also have ways to manage my stress positively, such as working out, walking, playing the piano and talking to my team, sharing responsibilities and at times my concerns.
If I only pursued things in life that didn't stretch me and at times made me feel stressed, I wouldn't get the joy of working on large projects, making a real difference to workplaces and people's lives.
Another example is visiting my family. I get so much happiness and joy from being with them all, there's always lots of laughter and fun. Sadly they live far away, so when I leave, it makes me sad as I know it'll be a few months until I see them again. There doesn't always have to be sadness and happiness together but my point is, there is a huge emphasis on - 'how to be happy' without addressing the realities of life, that it can sometimes be tough. That's why I like the term 'realistic happiness.' Realistic happiness is about recognising it's ok not to be happy all the time and to have periods of sadness. It's also about recognising some people need more help than just 'cheering up'. It might be some people have low self-esteem and this is causing upset and anxiety in their life and job. There may be other more complex reasons for unhappiness too. Recognising and helping people with this is more than just cheering someone up. There's some great tips on for helping people with self-esteem and other more complex mental health issues that cause unhappiness on the NHS website. The point is, it’s about helping people get through life, the highs, the lows and everything in between and recognising it’s ok to have all kinds of emotions. At Laughology we understand this and that’s what realistic happiness is about.
Below we've put together some guidance on how to take positive steps if you or others are unhappy. How to recognise and deal with those moments when it's not going so well or you feel sad or stressed. You might think it's common sense and some of it is. Taking action is important. It is ok to be unhappy and have down days but it's also about recognising there is something you can do. Happiness isn't something you get and your there. You constantly have ups and downs in life and that's ok, without them, we would never experience happiness.
So enjoy world happiness day, it really is a good thing. But do remember it's ok not to be happy - it's what you do about it that counts.