Happiness is Overrated

Pamela Jett, CSP

Trouble ahead, Businessman with umbrella standing in front of stHave you ever found yourself in a situation where “choosing to be happy” or any of the other peppy pieces of advice often given by professional speakers from the platform just don’t seem to be working? Or, in a serious situation where being perky, upbeat, and a ray of cheerful sunshine doesn’t seem possible. Perhaps you’ve even found yourself facing a challenge or loss where being upbeat and chipper may even be downright inappropriate.

When challenged to “choose to be happy” or given other motivational nuggets, you might find yourself occasionally cringing and thinking, “here we go again.” Or, “Nothing is that simple. Things are complicated. My pressures and stressors are real!”

Eggs emotion concept. Clenched teeth. Angry and annoyed. Photo for your design

A perky, positive attitude has its place. Exuberant cheerfulness by choice can, without a doubt, help create a positive environment. Yet, after over 2 decades of working with professionals to enhance their communication and leadership skills, and frequently encouraging people to “choose to be happy,” I’ve recently decided that happiness is overrated.

Choosing to be happy is good. It is powerful. And, sometimes we need something more.

In the midst of challenges, and without a doubt we live in challenging times, what individuals, teams, and leaders really need is the ability to move forward and be productive while simultaneously acknowledging the impact change, crisis, and serious challenge has on people, teams, organizations, and even cultures. Failing to recognize these very real struggles can cause leaders to lose credibility and for teams to be less effective. Failure to acknowledge challenges minimizes psychological safety, a key driver of success.

Imagine if a leader had to lay off a substantial number of employees on a Friday. It would be not only absurd for them to come into work on Monday all chipper and upbeat, it would be counter-productive for them to do so. Team members would wonder “don’t they know our friends and colleagues are without a job? Are they that insensitive or delusional?” Leaders would lose credibility if they were chipper and upbeat. Teams would no longer trust their leader or feel safe. And yet, leaders are still tasked with moving projects forward, charting a course for success, and setting a positive example. That’s a tough spot. Happy and upbeat is a poor choice. Morose and depressed isn’t good either.

It’s in times like these that what we really need is the ability to choose to be relentlessly positive. Relentless positivity is the constant application of effective and productive optimism.

The constant and unabating application of effective and productive optimism-3

Based in neuroscience and with a focus on business application, the art of choosing to be relentlessly positive is something everyone can master. Relentless positivity moves us beyond the power of positive thinking and into the mindset and language crucial for resilience and success in today’s world.

Pamela Jett, CSP is a leadership and communication expert based in Phoenix, AZ. Delivered with energy, humor, and a dash of neuroscience, her latest keynote presentations, The Relentlessly Positive Leader and The Relentlessly Positive Communicator, provide audiences of all types new, evidence-based tools to overcome adversity and challenges.

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