INCREASE productivity with HAPPINESS

  • Mar 11, 2019

It was a year of tumult for the State Mutual Life Assurance Company. The New England insurance company had been through several acquisitions and mergers, and leadership in 1963 knew it needed a way to boost happiness and morale among the workers.

As the story goes, the company did something a little simpler to boost employee engagement (way before it was an HR buzzword) than free gym memberships or incentive trips to Acapulco.

It recruited graphic artist Harvey Ross Ball and paid him $45 to create a happiness-inducing graphic to disseminate across the company, according to the Smithsonian Institution. Ball obliged; the result was disarmingly simple and universally recognized now: a bright yellow smiley face with two small oval eyes and a mouth with a subtle, Mona Lisa-esque smile. The company produced posters, buttons and signs with the face, and the image gradually became world-famous as an unpretentious reminder to be happy.

More than 55 years later, the quest for happiness still exists. In fact, people are finding it even more difficult to be happy. In the UN’s latest World Happiness Report, for example, the U.S. ranked 18th for happiness, behind Luxembourg and just above the U.K. On a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the happiest, the U.S. scored a 6.886 – a total which has fallen by 0.3 points over the past decade.

According to the report, unhappiness comes down to several factors, most of which are social rather than economic (since income per person has risen since the 1960s). Fewer people feel they have control over their life choices, can count on others when times get tough, or can trust public figures. And based on charitable giving numbers, people are less generous with others than they used to be.

Academics and experts debate whether happiness is a choice, but this much is true: you can take steps toward adopting a positive mindset that improves your outlook, perspective and attitude. Not only will it make a difference in your personal life, but it will make you a more effective salesperson through increased productivity and healthier relationships.