Flexible Careers, Happiness, Inspirational, Productivity

Still in Pursuit

Still in pursuit... but of what exactly?

Posted 20 December 2019

Still In Pursuit

By Adam Kohl

Defining Happiness

It’s over two years since the brilliant Michael Fleming came into present to Vario on the subject of happiness, in his training titled ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’.

This was a fabulous session, but there is always the concern that like many training courses (or when reading a blog!), whilst feeling buoyed in the moment, the lessons are quickly forgotten. Except with this one, parts stuck.

The pursuit of happiness is in many ways a lifelong ambition. It isn’t like setting a target and going for it. You don’t get to a point and ‘achieve’ happiness. It is fleeting and far too intangible. This is probably why there are so many ways to define it. Economist Richard Layard said “The experience of joy, contentment or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile” whilst Behavioural Scientist Paul Dolan said “Happiness is experiences of pleasure and purpose over time.” I think Sean Achor, author of ‘The Happiness Advantage’, hit it on the head when he said it was less definable “There IS no SINGLE meaning; happiness is relative to the person experiencing it.”

What Does It Take?

Why do we do anything? Does making ourselves happy, lie at the root of it? Starting a family, chasing a promotion, going on holiday, seeing friends, watching a film, finding challenging satisfying work, surely underneath all of this sits a desire to bring ourselves some happiness.

Even acts of altruism, such as giving to the needy, smiling to a stranger, asking how someone is; these good deeds make us feel better about ourselves and therefore provide us with some inner-happiness!

So, what does it take to find the panacea to gloominess?

Honestly, I don’t know! Don’t read this article to the answer to that question. When Michael ran his session, he talked about some evidence around this subject. Gladly, your attitude, approach and actions account for almost half of the factors relating to happiness. This means that through our choices we can make decisions to improve our happiness. Which is what made me think about writing this blog article.

Making the Wrong Choices

I think it’s fair to say that we often make poor decisions in this area. I know that I do. Often fixating on the next thing; the next target, objective or purchase to bring a dose of happiness. I know that I have said to myself ”ll be happy when I do X’. Except in a lot of cases I don’t think X marks the happiness spot!

I talk with many of our Varios and the overall sense is that their decision to freelance has brought them a greater level of happiness in their life. However, it’s never down to the fact that they say they can now buy a new car for example. Instead it is down to spending more time with the family, learning a new skill or running a business alongside their Vario careers.

The Perfect Christmas Cake

At times of the year such as this, we often reflect on our lives and with that come thoughts of our own happiness. It can be a fabulous time, as we spend time with family, show others how much we care and let our hair down a little more than usual. Equally, it can be a hard time for anyone feeling lonely, or reflecting on unhappy events over the year. Often with this, we think about what we need to do to make us happy.

Despite what Nigella will tell you, there is no recipe for the best Christmas cake, as it’s all down to personal preference. In much the same way, none of the Varios say they have the winning formula; instead they are all piecing together their own unique recipe for happiness. Many working it out as they go along.

So when I reflect on my year and compile a New Year resolution list, I’ll be mindful of the Varios I’ve met and chatted with this year and think about my own personal recipe for a happy 2020.

What’s your unique plan for greater happiness over the next year?

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