How A Yale Class Can Help Your Employees Be Happier
These same principles can help employees be happier too!
“…I think we need to think seriously the idea that something is something is wrong, and we need to something about it. The cool thing is that we have a way out. We have hope. The science teaches us what we need to do. We just have to do it.”
A few of the happiness building basics
- Getting enough sleep – most college and high school students report only getting 4 – 5 hours of sleep. Regardless of your age your brain and body need more sleep than that and sleep has a big impact on mood.
- Your genes don’t predict your capacity for happiness – while it may be true that you inherit some of your “glass is half full or half empty” attitude from your family, you have a capacity of about 40% to take control of your own behavior.
- Get 30 minutes of cardio a day – even just a half hour of mild cardio every day can have the impact of a Zoloft prescription if you’re depressed.
- Savor the moment – really experience things and be present in the moment.
- Connecting with others will make you happier – even if you think you prefer solitude. A study showed that Chicago commuters felt happier after talking to strangers and finding common ground, even when they thought they would rather be alone and quiet.
How the course syllabus can translate into the workplace
- Give the gift of time off (even for just an hour) – granting her students the unexpected luxury of an hour of time with instructions to do something fun, creative, interesting that wasn’t work had a profound impact, some students said that hour of time will be one of their strongest memories of their Yale experience.
- Distribute gift cards or small amounts of cash to employees with the instruction that they must give it to another person. A research study showed that the good feelings for the giver of this type of generosity were long lasting and that the dollar amount didn’t matter.
- Find ways to encourage employees to learn how-to and to practice meditation – consider bringing in a teacher to educate staff on the basics of mindfulness and/or provide guided meditation classes as part of your fitness program.
Writing can help
Santos shares these things you can do at both home and work that can increase happiness:
- Write a gratitude list
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Write thank you notes
Do the work
“You can hear all these studies and you can get an A in this class, but unless you put this stuff into practice, it’s not gonna help. You have to do the work.”
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Happiness…a growing field of academic study
Yale isn’t the only academic institution that is taking a serious look at happiness. UC Berkeley was the first to offer a massive open online course (MOOC) on positive psychology. The Science of Happiness course teaches science-based principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life. Stanford is home to The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). Their must-read list on compassion and happiness is a wonderful resource on this topic.