The Path to Happiness
At one point, a few years ago, I was out having dinner by myself, and I noticed something that I’m sure you have, too: When one or more people get up to go to the restroom, leaving one person alone at the table, that person inevitably takes out their smartphone to check their email, social media…whatever.
On that occasion, I decided to time this activity. How long do people wait before taking out their phones? Do they look around at the décor for a moment? Do they check out the wine or the dessert menu? Maybe spend a relaxing minute or two just enjoying the ambiance? What’s your guess? Two minutes? One? Thirty seconds?
I’ll bet you guessed lower than that. And you’d be right. My observation is that it is 15 seconds or less. That’s how long the average person took to whip out their phone. And that was a couple years ago. I’m sure we’re down to about 5 seconds now.
The Latest Research on Happiness
And you know what? That’s OK. Maybe. Because it depends less on what technology we’re using than how we’re using it. That’s an important point made by Amy Blankson, my guest on this week’s podcast. She’s an expert on happiness and leadership and the author of “The future of happiness.” She’s a featured professor on Oprah’s Happiness course and has written for Forbes on Women, Technology, and Leadership. And she’s simply a fun, engaging person to listen to and talk with.
As leaders, we know that happiness is a key ingredient for success. We want our people to be happy—and we want to be happy ourselves! And we know that technology is often a key ingredient to being efficient, effective and successful. But, if you’re like me, we also may feel that the use of technology sometimes seems at odds with happiness. They feel like conflicting tugs at our time. But Amy helps us understand that this doesn’t have to be the case. Technology is a tool. And like any tool, it can be used to make us happy or distracted. We discuss the use of the Muse headbands, for example, that can help you get better at meditation. And apps that help you get better gas mileage. Gamification can be a powerful way to increase happiness using technology.
It’s important, as leaders, that we also understand that we don’t need to be happy all the time. She makes a great comment that we sometimes need to get help before moving forward. We need to be transparent about our humanity, and not be “fake happy” leaders.
I hope you’ll listen. I promise that just hearing Amy’s laugh will give you a jolt of happiness.
For more information, visit: The Future of Happiness: 5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-Being in the digital Era.