It was a cold winter morning. I was standing outside my street, listening to the music, sipping hot tea in leisure, observing people as they pass before me. What interesting I saw? A bicycle! A man with the two milk containers hanging to his bicycle, was walking on foot balancing the bicycle with his hands. And my delight! A very sweet little boy was sitting on the saddle enjoying the ride by his father. My heart got filled with joy. I instantly waved my hands at the boy in the gesture of hello, with a broad smile on my face. And wow! The boy instantly looked at me and gave a beautiful smile to me. While, his father looked perplexed and confused with my gesture and didn’t return the smile.
This incident kept me thinking from that day. What made the child smile and why the father could not smile. After all, smile is arguably the most contagious thing among human species. Also, how can we improve our lives with a little effort of smile? Why can’t we give the most valuable but priceless thing i.e. our smile to ourselves and to others and make them happy? I wondered!
As we know, happiness is a pleasant emotion and smile is often the reflection or radiation of our happy state of mind. But smile is not only the result of happiness, it is also a cause of happiness. We often feel delighted when someone smiles at us. May be for a moment only. But that “positive stroke” (a psychological jargon) means a lot. You feel valued and noticed and loved and belonged.
So, how we keep ourselves happy so that we are capable to give our best smile and spread a lot of joy in this world? This is of particular relevance to the organisational leaders. Happy people at the workplace creates a positive work climate, build employer brand, attracts the talent, retains people and makes them be at their best and eventually serve their best to their organisational goals also.
Think about it. This is of special importance to the organisations like ‘the great Indian Railways’. It is an organisation ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’. So if, “We the people” want to serve our customers well, “We the people” need to be happy and “serve with smile”.
A smile from the co-worker and the leaders can go a long way to mitigate the ill effects of “organisational work stress” and minimise “burnouts”. It is a workable and readily available tool of stress management.
But the million dollar question is, where lies the source or basis of happiness. Is it in a lot of money, a loving partner, a secure job, power postings, fame or what? Well! This is not new. Philosophers, sages, poets from time immemorial have deliberated on the nature and source of happiness. Scientists, neurologists, psychologists and economists are the latest entrants. Remember the happiness index of Bhutan?
Often, we the humans get cling to some desires. We believe that only when we get to those wanted things, the happiness will be in our lives. While it is the fact, when we get attached to something, we feel emptiness unless we achieve it. But it is the equal fact that once those things are achieved, it is not sufficient to keep us happy for long.
We see this all the time. Earlier, all happiness was there in getting in a good college, then a good job, then a good life partner, then a lot of wealth or fame or power or whatever. You get my point. So, when these big events happen in our lives whom we often call our dreams, we definitely feel happy. But soon we start feeling the void of something in our lives after celebrating that moment.
So Yah! These big events while make us happy, does not necessarily keep us happy in our daily lives. So, what is that which keeps us happy in our lives? Or, where lies the fountainhead of joy? What are the strongest of factors which can predict the happiness?
While there is a lot which is there in scriptures on this, institutions like Harvard did research to know it scientifically (see the work, ‘stumbling on happiness’ by ‘Daniel Gilbert’). Everything points to one most critical factor of happiness and it is the ‘thickness of our social bonding’. As social beings, it matters to our happiness as to who stands with us when we need. Is there someone who cares for my existence. More the answers in affirmative, more the happiness and more the smiles!
But I need to dig deeper. Okay! It is the social bonding or the trust or the social capital. But what is that ingredient, which builds thick relations. What makes us connect to the other beings? What makes our bonding strong? What will make us smile?
Well! It is the 2G! ‘Gratitude’ and ‘Giving’! When you are grateful or thankful for the goodness of others and for the things you have, you feel happy. If you try to disregard things you have, you lose your happiness. Similarly, when you give, you feel happy. Because that reminds you that your existence matters on this planet. Think about ‘Mother Teresa’. What she had? The joy of giving love and care to this planet.
I remember the story of the Buddha here! One poor destitute person asks Buddha, “Everyone in the village is rich, happy and satisfied. Why I am so unhappy?”. Buddha replied that you are unhappy because you have never given anything to anyone. Poor man asked in confusion! What! I am the most poor. What I can give to others? Buddha smiled! He said that you have a mouth to speak good words, two hands to do good deeds and above all a face to give your smile to others and spread joy. Poor man understood. He smiled!
And we need not to believe on anything to know this. Just try to experiment. Greet yourself and others with a smile. Do it everyday. Then feel the effect. The climate around will become so much joyful with just a smile. Smile eats up the negative emotions like anger and hatred and envy.
These 2G are the powerful tools for the people leaders. Great organisations are not built on heaps of profit but on the roots of a great positive happy work culture. Profitable organisations can be considered as successful organisations judged by the narrow financial matrix, but they may not necessarily be the great organisations to work with. Also, being the best does not mean that it cannot be made better.
HR leaders need to inculcate the 2G – Gratitude & Giving in our everyday working of the organisation. How to do that? Well! It is not that hard! Here is what we can do in our daily routine to realise the profundity of the 2G:
To begin with, we can try to be ‘grateful managers’. Often managers forget to praise people and to give them their due credit for their contribution. Never ever miss any opportunity to thank and express your gratitude to your team members or subordinates. If possible, do it in front of others. I have consciously tried to practice it and every time I see a great happiness in people when their contribution is acknowledged. Say, ‘You have done an amazing job’ or ‘you made it possible’ or just write on the social groups. It takes nothing just the attitude.
Secondly, we should reward more than punish. Fear psychosis doesn’t elicit the best response in the longer run. Talent flees the organisation if climate of fear and mistrust prevails. Reward good deeds. Express the gratitude. Positive strokes will act as a positive reinforcement to repeat the good work.
Thirdly, greet with smile and encourage your team members to do so. Your one smile can take away stress of your staff. They will feel connected and clearly tell you the problems they are facing.
Fourthly, give your genuine care to the people you work with. This cultivates the deepest of trust and strengthens the social bonds. I’ve felt this. Once I noticed that my most cheerful staff was looking upset. She was not smiling. I sat down near her and asked why. She exploded and started crying. She said that they are coming to office for the last three weekends and she could not give her motherly care to her son who wished her to stay. I felt sad. I asked her to dial up at her home. I talked to her school going son and said sorry for my decision to call mamma on weekends. After that, she felt so happy and happily worked the entire day despite I asked her to go.
These are the little things. But arguably the most neglected and least valued aspects of organisational working. We shy to talk of little things. We are fond of talking big things. Billions of financial numbers and building our power fortifications. We cannot take people for granted. We can start with 2G of smile right away.
So! Make a promise! Look yourself in the mirror and give yourself your beautiful smile. You have to begin with yourself. Just remember:
“The most deserving person to get a lovely smile of yours is you!”– TARUN GOYAL