more happiness please
February 25, 2008
Why, when we can choose any level of happiness, do so many of us choose something less – often much less – than bliss? Most of us – most of you reading this blog – lived truly charmed lives. And yet we choose other emotions like sadness, frustration, envy, disappointment.
So asks Lisa over at Management Craft. I don’t believe we can control our feelings .. neither do I really believe we can control our emotions. I also have to admit to being somewhat sceptical of the ‘happiness industry’ that’s blooming right now. I simply don’t believe that applying a cognitive frame to our emotional lives works. So much of what we feel is generated in work environments where there are socially negotiated ‘rules’ about what emotion is acceptable/preferable in that setting. Organisations are emotional and emotion generating environments – if my team wins a contract and I’m happy is that because I’m a happy person and brought that to work with me this morning or is it as a result of something that happened at work? Likewise with other emotions. Splitting off happiness as something we can have more of by excluding the rest of the emotional spectrum doesn’t fit with any frame of reference I know – short of sublimating or splitting it really doesn’t work.
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I don’t believe happiness comes from excluding the rest of the emotional spectrum, but using all my emotions to encourage happiness. For example I can be frustrated with a certain project letting it drag me down or I can process these emotions and try to use them, allowing my frustration to teach me.
When I get frustrated at work I allow these feelings to wash over me then try to adjust, so I can get the job done. Other times I’ll take a break and allow myself to relax, but whatever it is happening I never force myself to be happy. I let it come back on it’s own.
Of course happiness doesn’t come from excluding the rest of the emotional spectrum – I think we are in agreement on that one. However, the happiness industry is predicated on a socially constructed notion of what happiness is which in turn is negotiated in organisational settings..my point is that happiness (or any other emotion) isn’t always up to the individual to decide or act upon (consciously or unconsciously).
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