principle 7 - social investment

Principle 7 | Social Investment

We’ve arrived to the final principle in our Happiness Advantage series. It’s all about social investment, i.e. investing in relationships that shelter, sustain and nurture us. Having close relationships is what gets us through thehappygroup_opt challenges of life.

Some of us are really good at opening up and sharing challenges and setbacks and then some of us like to tough it out and handle it on our own. I usually fall into the second category, how about you? The times I have opened up and discussed problems or challenges, I have always felt better and better equipped to handle the situation going forward.We talked in an earlier principle about how articulating your problem actually helps resolve the issue. It seems that putting things in words breaks it down and makes it manageable.

Most of us have probably felt overwhelmed with work projects at times. How do you handle it? If you decide to hunker down and focus on the task, ignoring co-workers, skipping lunch, breaks and any time connecting with the people around you, how does that feel? You feel isolated and out of touch with your co-workers. You may finish your project well, but then what? You’ll probably get another one and put yourself through the same routine until you spiral into perpetual overwhelm and misery.

The most successful people (according to Achor), take the exact opposite approach. When they get a huge project they don’t turn inward, they go to their support system. Instead of skipping lunch and ignoring their co-workers, they take time for small talk, short breaks and they get energized and motivated from these interactions. If your workload is heavy, most likely everyone else is experiencing it to some degree. Having a time set aside from work tasks builds resiliency and actually helps you accomplish more.

In an office setting, this works best when the manager realizes this and takes the lead in organizing and supporting his/her team. When I was in the corporate world, this included meeting for lunch or breakfast, as time and schedule allowed. My local group was on call 24/7, and things could get stressful fast for them. So our manager supported when we could get together for meals and he gladly approved the expense.

One of my current clients is a CPA firm. We’re all familiar with tax season – January-April when there’s no time off and the workload and stress levels are high. Management realizes this and they have weekly in-house catered lunches, coffee or Sonic runs and other activities to relieve stress for the team.

Happiness at work

Our relationships at work have a direct bearing on our productivity (you’re not surprised, are you?). Gallup, which has spent decades studying this, estimates U.S. companies lose $360 billion a year in  productivity due to poor relationships with their supervisors. In fact…

“The strength of the bond between manager and employee is the prime predictor of both daily productivity and the length of time people stay at their jobs.”

The best leaders and companies know this and know it affects their profits. Here’s this year’s list of top 100 companies to work for – some of them aren’t huge corporations, they are smaller firms that have realized investing in their people not only helps their people flourish and keep them motivated, it helps their bottom line. Remember that $360 billion productivity number above!

I looked through quite a few Bible verses on friendship and wanted to share these two:

Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart. Proverbs 27:9.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

Achieving Principle 7 – Social Investment

In a study called, ‘Very Happy People’, researches wanted to find the characteristics of the happiest 10 percent of people among us. Was it where they lived, money or status? No – they found only one characteristic that distinguished the happiest 10 percent and that was the strength of their social connections.

friendshipTo achieve happiness, according to this research, one must seek, nurture and flourish with our social connections and interactions. Some of us need more social interactions than others, but we all need it.


Spending the last two months writing the principle summaries has been a great benefit to me. I read the book during the summer and started underlining passages and gave a lot of thought to what Shawn Achor wrote. Then I put it down for a few months and gradually drifted away from thinking about the principles – until I decided to do this series. Now that it’s finished, I’ve been wondering if it’ll happen again, even though I’ve put in a lot of hours these two months. Then I wonder about you and if this series has made a positive effect on you and if you’ve tried any of the principles.

So we don’t forget, how about we get out a piece of card stock or just use your computer to list each principle. Next to each principle, put in your own words a definition, key word or phrase that will stay with you. I’ll put them below. This site has a condensed synopsis of each principle.

1. The Happiness AdvantageachorHappinessAdvantage
2. The Fulcrum and the Lever
3. The Tetris Effect
4. Falling Up
5. The Zorro Circle
6. The 20-Second Rule
7. Social Investment

With 2015 coming fast, I hope this series will help you have the best year ever. I’d appreciate your comments on what this series or a particular article has meant to you.

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