Happiness: a cautionary tale for 2016

Jan 25th, 2016 | By FCT

Business is hard; people are challenging; goals are important.

Right?

Not necessarily, not 24/7—in fact, there’s much to be gained by being loose and indulging our bodies’ sometimes mysterious rhythms, according to some serious research about “busyness” and its snarky cousin, the ever-lengthening to-do list.

Futurist Sara Robinson looked at the orthodox work week and discovered that every hour you work over 40 hours per week actually diminishes long-term and short-term productivity. However, for most of the 20th century, the soul of bad management was staff who worked overlong hours.

No more: now we’re addicted to overwork. And happiness (however you define it) is for most people like the Holy Grail: never seen, mysterious and, quite likely, non-existent.

Faced with all this unhappiness, maybe it’s no surprise that happiness research is now big science; a recent University of Southern California study indicates that less than 20% of the adult North American population is “fulfilling (their) potential for happiness, success and productivity, while 46% feel they have no time for leisure.”

No time for leisure? Yikes! What’s the brain science on that, looking ahead to 2016?

Here’s the deal if you want to find your groove in the year ahead:

  1. An overloaded brain is no good to anyone: our ability to create, plan, design, decide, control our impulses, and even retain important social data (“I think I forgot our anniversary”) collapses when we multitask. Brains aren’t computers: we worry far less when we do one thing at a time—the opposite of “busyness.”
  2. “The more you have, the more you need”: best research suggests that the minimum effective dose (MED, a pharmaceutical measure) for work, sleep, meditation, email (oh, brother), any activity, actually—is the way to go. Do the minimum and you’ll find the white space you create in your work life will make you far more creative. (I’m convinced this is why my meditation practice works: the brain has gone minimalist.)
  3. Take time to daydream. Look, you and I both know our most creative time is likely in the shower, getting lost in the steam and the blank mind of being completely vulnerable under the stream of water. So stare out the window for a spell now and then. Your brain will thank you for it.

And remember, when it comes to business success, choosing the right business partner can make all the difference; offering you greater efficiency so that you get more value time to concentrate on what’s most important to you, be that work or play. Or even just taking one of those seemingly non-existent moments to yourself.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed when you look at your resolutions for 2016 or that endless to-do list, take five minutes and read this—it’s a little piece called “You’re not doing life wrong.”

And you’re not.

Happy 2016 and all best for a fantastic year ahead.

Categories: EXPERT/ease
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