More of work-life balance: How can I embrace happiness?

Dear PR Matters,

I enjoyed your columns on work-life balance and learned so much how important it is. Those working in companies that have work-life balance programs are very lucky indeed as these can lead one to become better professionals and better persons.

From what was written, I can surmise that work-life balance is part of the quest for happiness. And I realized that happiness is not a feeling, but a mind-set one has to work on.

Perhaps you can give us some tips on how one can embrace being happy.


Lauren A.

Dear Lauren,

My colleagues and I are happy that you like reading our column and learned something from our work-life balance series.

You are correct in saying that work-life balance is tied in to the pursuit of happiness. We all want to be happy, and today, there is a growing happiness movement as brands “Happiness in a Bottle,” “Joy of Cooking” and endless hours of fun in their marketing materials. In fact, the United Nations has proclaimed March 20 as the International Day of Happiness.

One way that can lead to happiness is surrounding yourself with people who are happy. Laughter, as they say, is infectious. And so is an optimistic way of looking at life.

In his article “7 Habits You’ll Notice the Happiest People Practicing [but most of us rarely do],” Marcel Schwantes said that through his research on what happy and successful people do, “it struck me how intentional they are about choosing the right mind-set to become more optimistic.”

He lists six sure signs of the happiest people. These are people it will be good for us be around with, and aim to be like:

They chose to have healthy relationships

To be in good health, we often have to learn to establish healthy eating habits, exercise and a positive attitude toward things. That way, we minimize the toxins that can harm us.

In the same way, we have to choose the people we surround ourselves with. These are people who can bring out the best in us, those we can learn good things from, and those who inspire us. This means getting rid of toxic relationships.

Schwantes himself said that, he “learned to be picky over the years whom I let into my inner circle of friends. Why because I believe close relationships are the key to sustaining happiness.”

He cites a study where researchers followed 268 men who entered Harvard in the late-1930s, for 80 years—through war, career, marriage, and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood and old age.

Robert Waldinger, a professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, was surprised at the findings, indicating that “our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care, too.”

For participants, half of whom are still alive as of this writing, “the only thing that mattered was their relationships to other people.

Have a mind-set of giving

In the book The Go Giver, the main character Joe learns that changing his focus from getting to giving ultimately led to unexpected returns.

Schwantes said that “science confirms that giving makes us feel happy, is good for our health and evokes gratitude.” One Harvard Business School report “even concluded that the emotional rewards are greatest when our generosity is connected to others, like contributing to a cancer-stricken friend’s GoFundMe campaign.”

Apart from financial generosity, he also asked us to “consider the positive impact of giving your time, mentoring others, supporting a cause, fighting justice and having a pay-it-forward mentality.”

Make all your decisions in integrity

“Living, working and leading in integrity means that we don’t question ourselves,” Schwantes said. “When we listen to our hearts and do the right thing, life becomes simple, and we live in peace. Our actions are now open to everyone to see, and we don’t have to worry about hiding anything.”

Practice mindfulness

Being mindful means “focusing your awareness on the here and now, as well as calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts.” It means living in the present moment.

The great thing about mindfulness, Schwantes said, is that it “blocks distractions that try to derail you from your dreams and goals.” And through this, “you attain great peace and free yourself from worry.”

Exercise patience.

Patience, Schwantes said, helps you relax and rethink your decisions.

He cites research that “patient people tend to experience less depression and negative emotions and can cope better with stressful situations.” Additionally, the study said they feel more gratitude, a greater connection to others and experience a greater sense of abundance.

Likewise, a 2012 study revealed that patient people made more progress toward their goals and were satisfied when they achieved them compared with less patient people.

Upgrade your happiness to joy. 

Schwantes here made us more aware of the difference between happiness and joy. “Joy is more serene, stable and deeper, whereas happiness can be fleeting, emotional and temporary,” he said.

He added that being in a state of joy comes down to choice, and making that choice has long-term psychological benefits. Brain research by Wataru Sato of Kyoto University said that choosing joyful behaviors like gratitude, compassion, forgiveness or kindness, you hold the key to rewiring a region of the brain called precuneus.

He suggested that we use the tools of meditation, prayer, journaling and mindfulness to aid us in the process.

By rewiring your brain with new habits of joy, “you’ll be able to control your sense of well-being and purpose.”

PR Matters a roundtable column by members of the local chapter of the United Kingdom-based International Public Relations Association (Ipra), the world’s premier association for senior professionals around the world. Millie F. Dizon, the senior vice president for marketing and communications of SM, is the former local chairman.

We are devoting a special column each month to answer the reader’s questions about public relations. Please send your comments and questions to [email protected]

Millie F. Dizon is the senior vice president for marketing and communications of SM, as well as the chairman of the local chapter of the United Kingdom-based International Public Relations Association (Ipra), the premier association for senior PR professionals around the world.PR Matters is a rotating column of members of the local chapter of the Ipra.PR Matters is devoting a special column each month to answer readers’ questions about public relations. Send your comments and questions to [email protected]


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