The other side of Workplace Happiness

other side of happiness

You probably have your favorite candy or cake or cookies that you, in theory, could eat as much as possible. But you know that you wouldn’t do that because in case you eat too much of it you will probably get sick of that. So sick that you might even throw up and not like that anymore in future.  As it turns out, the same applies to happiness.

It looks like too much happiness can be harmful both to an employee as well as for employer. For instance, a study conducted by Gruber, Mauss, and Tamir, found that moderate levels of happiness led to positive psychological benefits, excessive levels of happiness did not. This study demonstrated the following:

– extreme levels of happiness can lead to negative outcomes such as an increase in risky behaviors.

– the researchers found that happiness could be maladaptive in the wrong contexts – for example, an unsafe environment when it would be more functional to feel emotions such as fear or anger.

– pursuing happiness as a goal unto itself paradoxically leads to an overall diminishing of happiness.

– certain “types” of happiness can be contextually inappropriate in terms of the cultural values of society.

In addition to that, it has been found that too much happiness can make you less creative. According to Mark Alan Davis’s 2008 meta-analysis of the relationship between mood and creativity, when people experience intense and perhaps overwhelming amounts of happiness, they no longer experience the same creativity boost. And in extreme cases like mania, people lose the ability to tap into and channel their inner creative resources. What’s more, psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has found that too much positive emotion—and too little negative emotion—makes people inflexible in the face of new challenges.

Moreover, it turns out that pursuit of happiness can actually make people unhappy. For instance, work by Iris Mauss has supported the idea that striving for happiness may actually cause more harm than good. In fact, the more people pursue happiness the less they seem able to obtain it. The more people strive for happiness, the more likely they will be to set a high standard for happiness—then be disappointed when that standard is not met.  It is as if the harder one tries to experience happiness, the more difficult it is to actually feel happy, even in otherwise pleasant situations.

But as you know, this blog is about workplace happiness. We know that happiness matters and that organization actually need happy employees, because:

– Happy employees are more creative and are better at solving problems.

– Happy employees are less sick.

– Happy employees are more engaged.

– Happy employees have fewer safety incidents.

– Happy employees are more productive.

So what could you do now? You know that you actually need happy employees because happiness matters. But how to make sure that your people aren’t “too happy”? Well, make sure to balance happiness. Your people want different things. Talk to them and listen to this that they have to say.


Leave your comment and share your story how you balance your people workplace happiness?


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