Two weeks ago, in my son’s house, I saw my two granddaughters putting coloured bricks together to make a house. They were in a world of their own; discussing, choosing bricks of different sizes and shapes, making suggestions, changing their minds, laughing –  happiness!

Last week, at the airport, I saw a mother and father welcome home their daughter – hugs, kisses, tears, smiles, laughs, joy – happiness!

Yesterday, on the front page of the Irish Times, I saw the photograph of a the person who had won the Entrepreneurial Award of the year – a big, broad smile, eyes sparkling, two hands firmly clutching his statuette to his chest – happiness!

There are thousands of examples of similar experiences of happiness that people all over the world have every day which most people value and view as the better and most satisfying parts of their lives.

Most of us would like to have more of them in our lives and would aver that they are what make life worth living.

But most of us, also, have quite the opposite of experiences –  not knowing where we are going;  feelings of powerlessness; disappointment, being slighted, ridiculed, bullied, passed over, not appreciated – all resulting in feelings of rejection, dejection, sadness, unhappiness.

Could we have more experiences of happiness and less of unhappiness in our lives?

Should we have more experiences of happiness and less of sadness in our lives?

The answers to both questions must be a resounding “yes”!

And that answer poses another question – how do we do it?

And we do it by deliberately identifying those experiences in life in which we currently experience happiness  – and similar ones in our past- and repeating them: and conversely,  identifying  those experiences in which we have been unhappy and either avoid them or face up to them and erase them!

To bring about such change demands some knowledge about people in general and ourselves in particular.

So what makes people in general happy?

Here are 20 that we come across again and again in our business;

  1. Being with people you like
  2. Being in a job you like.
  3. Being on a course that you like.,
  4. Being in a position to help others
  5. Learning
  6. Solving problems
  7. Being creative
  8. Making money
  9. Being appreciated
  10. Being in charge
  11. Having passionate interests
  12. Identifying and applying my real aptitudes
  13. Using my personality to good effect in my job
  14. Travel
  15. Showing other people how to do things.
  16. Standing out from the crowd; being famous
  17. Achievement
  18. Not working at a desk in an office all day, everyday.
  19. Using computers
  20. Making a difference

And what makes people unhappy?

The answer is the opposite to all of the foregoing e.g.

  1. Being with people in school, in college, in a job, at a party, in a relationship – business or personal; on a committee that you don’t like.
  2. Being in a job that you don’t like – its too boring, too stressful, badly paid, having bad managers.
  3. Being on a course that you don’t like – its too academic; too practical; not challenging; over my head.

And so on – and more like:

  1. Indifferent, uncaring, demanding parents
  2. Sarcastic teachers
  3. Aggressive, intimidating, divisive, bullying siblings, peers; workmates, managers
  4. Appearance, body image
  5. Social anxiety, low self-esteem, poor academic performance
  6. Negative feedback
  7. Favouritism
  8. Not having friends
  9. Being viewed negatively by others
  10. Others taking credit for your ideas and hard work

How do you relate to the first 20 and the last 10?

Can you think of others – happy experiences and unhappy ones?

What might you consider now?

Take two of each and set yourself goals for repeating the happy ones and facing up to and erasing the unhappy ones. In a few   weeks  move on to another four; people become what they practice.

In later blogs we will explore how to increase your ratio of happy experiences to unhappy ones by making the best career choices for you based on your interests, aptitudes, personality, personal history and the rapidly changing landscape of the workplace.