That was the question posed by Philip Humbert in his newsletter this week and it certainly gave me pause.
Building on his understanding of the points made in Martin Seligman’s book, “Authentic Happiness” (which I haven’t read) he argues that pleasure is always susceptible to the law of diminishing returns and thus, because it can never sustain us, “pleasure for it’s own does not work!”
Citing one fascinating specific Dr. Humbert goes on to say: “When people are measured while watching comedies on television, even while they are laughing, their actual emotional state shows a mild level of depression! Think about that, and it's implications!”
On the other hand, however, “when we substitute 'gratification' or 'fulfilment' for pleasure, our sense of happiness actually increases, and the increase remains over the long term!”
This must hold true in the workplace as well. After all, we become what we think, and if our personal lives are dominated by the perpetual pursuit of pleasure, it surely follows that our working lives must be too. So if we either cannot find pleasure at work, or suffer from the law of diminishing laws that the pleasure we do find in our work brings, it is hardly surprising that we become disenchanted and disengaged.
Might it even be that we have too much work-life balance, and a lack of happiness in our personal lives compounds a lack of fulfilment at work and vice-versa, creating a vicious cycle that is contributing to the dramatic increase in employee disengagement?
Of course employers cannot be expected to sort out their peoples’ personal lives, but, maybe, just maybe, they can make the workplace a more fulfilling environment and not only break the cycle and create more engaged employees, but contribute to a generally happier society.
And helping create an environment with happier, more-fulfilled people is precisely what Zealise is all about. After all, as Burton Hills said, “Happiness is not a destination. It is a method of life.” That has to include our work lives.