- Give yourself permission to be human
It is OK to show our vulnerability. We cannot be strong, upbeat, happy and confident all the time. As humans, we experience joy and excitement during good times, and we feel sad or anxious when bad things happen. In fact, there would be something wrong with us if we didn’t experience sadness or anxiety at times. The paradox is that when we accept our feelings — when we give ourselves the permission to be human and experience painful emotions — we are more likely to open ourselves up to positive emotions.
We need the resilience skills to deal with the hardships in life, and also flourishing skills to build a good life.
Chinese people are highly resilient. Our culture is obsessed with being stoic (堅忍、刻苦耐勞）. We believe in being strong in the face of adversity, the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefore the more successful we will be. This is a highly valuable cultural trait. It serves us well working hard for long hours and under stressful conditions. Yes, resilience involves working hard, but it also requires one to stop, recover, and then begin the hard work again. To build resilience, you need to know when to take a break, mini breaks and also longer ones. This means spending some time away from your phone and computer, eating lunch away from your desk, and actually using your vacation time.
Remember the mind-body connection. What we do — or don’t do — with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.
However, resilience only is not enough. If all that you do is coping with adversity and tough challenges, your life is not an attractive one, it is a tough life. No one would choose a life like this if they have a choice, especially Gen-Y and Gen-Z young people. They need something to look forward to as well.
Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week or month that provide you with both pleasure and meaning. Research shows that an hour or two of a meaningful and pleasurable experience can affect the quality of an entire day, or even a whole week.
Happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the level of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our well-being is determined by what we choose to focus on and by our interpretation of external events. Do we focus on the empty part or the full part of the glass? Do we view failures as catastrophic, or do we see them as learning opportunities?
Ability to focus on the positive/optimistic/hopeful perspective is a mindset skill, but there is more to it. Happiness exists in action, not just thinking about it.
Happiness boosters – do something that makes you feel good during the work day. Use your creativity to develop activities that tailor to your personality.
- 5 minutes activities: stand up and stretch during a long meeting, water the plants on your desk, talk to your children, listen to your favourite song loudly using your headphone.
- 15 minutes activities: order in a surprise snack for everyone during a long meeting, walk around the office to compliment your colleagues, find a quiet corner at the office and meditate for 15 minutes.
- 60 minutes activities: hold your one-on-one meeting at your favourite café, bring your lunch to the park,
ME time – Looking after yourself is NOT selfish. Often, in our busy life, we put it as the least of our priorities. In fact, it should be the top of our priority, because we need it to nourish our psychological and physical wellbeing. It can be a nice hot bath, the alone time driving between office and home, the basketball game in the weekend, a yoga-class, gardening, cooking, as long as time doing something FOR yourself, purely for the joy of doing it.
4. Happier at work
It’s normal to see work as something to be endured, not enjoyed. We work all day, then come home to more responsibilities or simply do nothing by sitting in front of the TV screen, with the (erroneous) assumption that work is about stress (making a living) while the rest of our life is where we derive true meaning and happiness(making a life).
Work is your life, actually a very large part of your life. Why not derive some positivity and happiness from work? Don’t endure it dreaming about the day when you have enough money in the bank account to retire.
FLOW time – schedule FLOW time everyday or once a week, it is a 2-hr meeting with yourself. You have an uninterrupted time to focus on some quality thinking or important task. You will feel better and a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. (專注心流)
WE time – The number one predictor of happiness is the time we spend with people we care about and who care about us. The most important source of happiness may be the person sitting next to you. Appreciate them, and savor the time you spend together. Allow yourselves some time and mental space to laugh together. （苦中作樂）
Job-Crafting – Job-crafting is an approach connecting the strengths, meaning and relationships while doing one’s job. It involves one reflecting upon his or her work environment and then taking actions at work to try to (i) structure one’s tasks so that they can be done more effectively; (ii) improve one’s social relationships and interactions at work; and (iii) find meaning and purpose in the work being done, often by connecting it to the mission or vision of the entire organization itself.