One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

By Jennifer Marley

As we read news reports on the youth violence in Britain, it comes to mind that we as a society could be doing more to engage youth positively and constructively.   I had the pleasure of seeing The Happy Movie by Director Roko Belic at Mountain Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado in May 2011.  The movie outlines ways that each of us can control and add to our happiness.  While genetics accounts for about half of the factors that contribute to our happiness, socioeconomic factors account for a lot less than you’d think.  It is true that some of the rebelling British youth might be below the poverty line, and in fact, happiness does go up with income as household income grows between $5k and $50k.  But after the $50k HH is reached, happiness is predicted by other factors.  Some of these include:

–          Community involvement and interactions with others of all ages.

–          Being outside and in nature.

–          Being physically active.

–          Doing something that you love doing…getting in Flow with that activity

–          Feeling a sense of Purpose…especially in Helping Others.

More research is being done on happiness every day.  This week marks the release of a new book “The Happiness Equation” which probes the reason and meaning of what makes for a happy Canadian by Ipsos ASI’s John Hallward.  This is his second book in the Pursuit of Happiness area and it leverages the wealth of information that Ipsos is able to glean from its large panel studies.

The Happiness Equation discusses the importance of health (both physical and mental), less screen-time, connecting with others, romance and marriage (and not just co-habiting), avoiding debt, doing what one is passionate about, volunteering, being charitable, not having children at home, balancing one’s life, and finding the right mindful approach to appreciating happiness. There is little correlation for happiness with work-time, commuting, or sleeping. “We cannot sleep or drink ourselves to happiness,” says Hallward.

Hallward wanted to write the book to help Canadians better focus on what truly makes them happy. As Hallward is quick to point out, “The facts show that the answer is not more money. So, we need to learn the real answer…the human nature of happiness.”

As marketers, there is a lot we can do to create happiness too.  Does your customer service make your customers’ feel better or worse?  Does your Brand truly make a difference in their lives?  Either by increasing utility or even entertainment?  How about your company culture?  Do you focus on Employee Engagement?  It is worth thinking about how to increase Happiness for your Brand and your Employees.  If everyone is in pursuit of happiness at all touch points, then you can not only make the world a better place…but your business revenue will improve as a result.

The bottom line is that happiness is worth cultivating.  Perhaps this is the real secret in helping our disengaged and neglected youth in Britain.  It certainly is the point of view taken by Michael Caine’s 2010 movie Harry Brown which explores violence in British youth.  This movie may not be a household name, but is well worth watching.  It has certainly caused me to view the news and Britain’s reaction in a different light.

As shown on the website, “With happiness, the more you have the more everyone has!”  Let’s all do our part.