Work alone won’t make you happy.

Those who really want to do something about improving workplace happiness might also draw on significant insights about happiness from the field of psychology, such as Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Happiness Hypothesis, summarizes a large amount of recent research on happiness with the formula:

H =S + C + V


“H” is happiness;

“S” is the “setpoint” or basic disposition to greater or lesser happiness, which varies considerably from individual to individual;

“C” is the amount of happiness generated by the conditions in which the individuals find themselves; and

“V” is the amount of happiness generated by the voluntary activities that individuals undertake themselves.

The biggest part of the “conditions” (C) for happiness, says Haidt, are social relationships. “No man, woman, or child is an island. We are ultra-social creatures, and we can’t be happy without having friends and secure attachments to other people.” We may find the people with whom to have these relationships at work, but it’s the relationships, not the work that is critical for happiness. We need to be realistic about what the workplace by itself can, and cannot, do. Even inspiring workplaces are not sufficient for true happiness.

The second most important part of the conditions (C) for happiness is “having and pursuing the right goals, in order to create states of flow and engagement. In the modern world, people can find goals and flow in many settings, but most people find most of their flow at work.”

~ Excerpt from “How to be Happy at Work” By Steve Denning