Hundreds of researchers around the globe have produced reports finding that humans derive happiness from strong relationships — even more than they do from money, possessions, or professional achievements. So how do we find happiness in a COVID-19 world that leaves people feeling isolated from family, friends and work colleagues?
“One thing we can do is readjust our attitude,” SobelCo executive Sally Glick told the NJBIA Women Business Leaders Council members who were social distancing in a recent Zoom meeting. “It’s easy to slide into self-pity or to wallow around in a dark place with the hope that things get back to normal soon. But hope is not a strategy. Instead of growing despondent, we can create a Plan B.”
Glick, the company’s chief growth strategist, noted that while studies have found genetics and external factors play a role in our ability to find happiness, 40% is firmly under our own control.
“That’s good news because it means there’s a lot we can do to control our own attitude, the level of our satisfaction, and our internal feeling of contentment,” Glick said.
Even in this new world of social distancing, where warm hugs and handshakes have been replaced by elbow bumps and waves at Zoom meetings, it is still possible to be happy, Glick said. Concentrate on maintaining your connections with family, friends and colleagues — not the manner in which you have to do so because of COVID-19, she said.
“Keep your focus on the people, not the process itself,” said Glick, noting everyone occasionally feels “Zoom fatigue” these days. “Remember it’s not how we connect that’s important, it’s that we do it.”
Glick suggested making a list of the people who are part of your “meaningful network”– the ones you rely on when faced with a difficult decision, the ones who help you during trying times, the ones who inspire you, and the ones you like to celebrate and share a laugh with. Call at least one of these people every day to connect and let them know they matter, she said.
“The important lesson of happiness is that when we make someone else happy, we make ourselves happy as well,” she said.
Glick offered these seven additional tips for achieving happiness —even during a pandemic:
- Accept and celebrate differences, especially people who do not perceive the world the same way you do.
- Listen effectively because if you’re too busy talking, you’re not hearing what people say.
- Give people your time, which is your scarcest commodity and the most valuable.
- Improve your communication skills so that you can tell when someone is actually hearing and processing what you are saying to them.
- Trust more because it is the foundation of all strong relationships.
- Develop greater empathy so that you can better understand other points of view.
- Be kind and thoughtful. Extending yourself to others fosters incredible good will.