Happiness and the Bottom Line

In case you missed it, March 20, 2014 was International Happiness Day. Sponsored by the United Nations International, the Day of Happiness is a reminder that there are lots of good things in this world and a moment of reflection is a nice way to celebrate our gifts. Interestingly and not surprising, eighty-seven percent of people who took the online poll at www.dayofhappiness.net say that happiness trumps wealth. Is this bad news for the financial community? No it is not and here's why.

Research studies repeatedly link emotional well-being with economic productivity. In his informative book entitled "What Happy Companies Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Company for the Better," Dr. Dan Baker (with Cathy Greenberg and Collins Hemingway) extols the virtues of businesses that recognize the importance of motivating workers with carrots and not sticks. By extension, happy workers will remain employed and their incomes typically rise as they carry out their duties with a smile. This is great news for the advisers who want to help those with money to invest.

Happiness is certainly a big business. A quick search of Amazon.com for books on this topic yields nearly 40,000 results. There's even a magazine called Live Happy. One of my favorite tee shirt companies is called Life is Good. You can watch "The Economics of Happiness" documentary and follow along with a study guide.

Some people keep a gratitude journal. Setting aside a few minutes of quiet time is likewise popular. ABC reporter Dan Harris must have struck a nerve as his book about meditation is a best-seller. Click to learn more about his 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works -- A True Story.

As readers of this blog know. I am a devotee of yoga and try to take a class whenever I can. My reasons include a desire to be fit and numerous advantages of taking deep breaths and focusing on the moment. The boost to concentration levels, especially for challenging projects, is a significant plus. The medical community continues to pay attention to the benefits of mindfulness. In late 2013, Bloomberg wrote about Harvard Medical School researcher, Dr. John Denninger, and his research about yoga, brain activity and immune levels. Since six to nine out of ten visits to see a doctor are cited as stress-related, costing companies roughly $300 billion per year, his federally-funded science can be helpful indeed to both individuals and employers. See "Harvard Yoga Scientists Find Proof of Mediation Benefit" by Makiko Kitamura (Bloomberg, November 21, 2013). Also check out "Take a Deep Breath," posted on the American Institute of Stress website.

Have a good day!

National Nothing Day

Are you ready to celebrate National Nothing Day on January 16 of each year? Created by late newspaperman Harold Pullman Coffin, 1973 marked the debut of this unusual event. The stated goal is for Americans to relax without worrying about missing an observance or celebration of something.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there is mounting evidence that relaxation and good health go hand in hand. According to the Mayo Clinic website, yoga (a type of relaxation activity) reduces stress, enhances fitness, helps with the management of chronic health problems and can keep weight gain in check. Writer Gloria Charlier cites an interview with Dr. Herbert Benson by veteran broadcaster Diane Rehm about his 2010 book entitled The Relaxation Revolution. The central premise is that a mind-body connection exists and must be nurtured. He's in good company since numerous prominent medical experts share his view. For businesses, the introduction of wellness programs can lower health care costs and encourage happier, and logically more productive, employees. Click to read "The relaxation response is healing" (Cincinnati Examiner, August 26, 2010).

If you get antsy sitting around this Sunday doing nothing, check out Meeting Wizard. A colleague tipped me off about this free site that finally (!) gets a handle on email and telephone tag when trying to set up multiple-person meetings.