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Happiness Is An Active Process – Recognition Can Help


the happiness recognition connection

paul hebert[Happiness Is An Active Process – Recognition Can Help – From Paul Hebert-VP Solution Design. Read more about him on our Leadership page.]

The first real work week of 2014!  Everybody happy?

I hope so.  I also hope that 2014 is a wonderful year for everyone.

Remember, having fun, enjoying what you do, being successful and making a difference are not zero sum activities.  Me being happy doesn’t take anything away from you nor does you being successful hurt me (unless of course we’re after the same client – but even then, there are more fish in the sea.)

Our ability to enjoy the process of work and life is key to our ability to be an effective contributor – and being a contributor actually helps us enjoy the process.

Wow – that’s deep in a circular reasoning sort of way.

Happiness doesn’t actually cause engagement – but it doesn’t hurt either.  Being happy does make the journey more fun and allows us to continue to add value when someone who is unhappy might throw in towel and just stop trying.


So How to Be Happy?

Turns out that in many cases our happiness is more a function of what we do than what happens to us.  In other words WE own happiness – they don’t.  WE own the process.

A recent suggestion on my Prismatic feed led me to this article: The Way To Happiness: Remember The 4 P’s.

(BTW – If you don’t already – go out to Prismatic, sign up, choose your areas of interest and let them provide a feed of articles that match your interest areas – I always find something worth reading… do it now for 2014 – trust me –you’ll love it!)

The article highlighted some interesting stats and points of view on happiness and one specific “happiness” factor stood out when I think of how recognition works in an organization.  That area is called “perspective.”

Here is that entire section of the post:


Happiness is more about how you look at life than what actually happens.

Happy people and unhappy people’s lives, objectively, are not all that different.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People:

Happy people do not experience one success after another and unhappy people, one failure after another. Instead, surveys show that happy and unhappy people tend to have had very similar life experiences. The difference is that the average unhappy person spends more than twice as much time thinking about unpleasant events in their lives, while happy people tend to seek and rely upon information that brightens their personal outlook. – Lyubomirsky 1994

Compare yourself to those better than you and you’ll feel bad. Compare against those below you and you’ll feel better.

…despite that the circumstances might be exactly the same.


Perspective = Happiness = Recognition

What I read in that section is that happiness is an issue of framing.  How we view an event is critical to how we allow it to impact us.  Bad news is bad news – but putting bad news inside a larger context – a different frame – can change the impact it has on our attitude and our actions.

Recognition done well helps provide the perspective that can drive happiness in your employee and associate population.

If all your employees hear about is how “poorly” they are performing  (ie – typical performance reviews) they only see how they are, as compared to some mythical “best” performance.  I say mythical because most managers have very little hard evidence of what “good” performance looks like – they typically say “I’ll know it when I see it.”  But the real issue here is that having a conversation with employees about their performance where the focus is on the good stuff not the bad stuff will drive their happiness up!


Recognition is a tool to increase happiness!

Recognition is all about framing good behaviors within the context of what is valuable, important, desirable and good. Recognition increases the sheer number of conversations about good things – helping to balance out any of the negative we all experience in our work lives.


PS – giving great recognition also drives happiness… for you this time.  You will be happier giving recognition.

The same article also says:

In an experimental research program, a relationship was found between happiness and helping behavior. By helping others, we create positive bonds with people and enhance our self image. Those who had more opportunities to offer help felt 11 percent better about themselves. – Pegalis 1994

Go make someone else and yourself happier.

Go forth and recognize!


4 Responses to “Happiness Is An Active Process – Recognition Can Help”

  1. […] Giving and getting recognition drives up happiness. Go make yourself and others happy!  […]

  2. Ara ohanian says:

    Paul, happy 2014! My own experience as an entrepreneur who has successfully built an international tech business is that recognition is crucial for success but will flourish only in the organization with the right culture: blame free, open and positive. In organizations which are less transparent and more political, people find it far harder to give, rather than accept criticism.

    • Paul Hebert says:

      Happy 2014 to you as well Ara. You’re right – recognition in the type of organization you mention – with the political agendas and opaque goals typically colors any recognition with the idea that there must be a secondary agenda at play and the recognition isn’t genuine. And being genuine is key to having recognition work well. Hope you have a very successful 2014!

  3. Symbolist says:

    […] Happiness Is An Active Process – Recognition Can Help (symbolist.com) […]

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