How to Harness the Science of Happiness

Mental health and wellbeing are topics close to the heart of Hunted. Both in our content and more notably, our Hope You’re Well campaign, which looks at mental health in recruitment.

At the end of the day, no matter what job you have, if you don’t enjoy it, it becomes laborious.

I don’t know the meaning of life. I’m not sure anyone does. But not long ago I came across an article that detailed the most common regrets of the dying.

And rather than view that as negative, it’s an empowering way to think about the time you’ve been given. Once you know what others have regretted, you can change your own life for the better.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself. Not the life others expected of me

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

4. I wish I stayed in touch with my friends

5. I wish I’d let myself be happier

Look at the last statement, and specifically the wording of it. I wish I’d let myself be happier.

Happiness isn’t something that happens to you. It’s a state of mind. It’s something you can decide to do for yourself.

So here’s how you achieve happiness. In your career, personal life, relationships and spare time.

What is happiness?

Harvard Psychologist Dan Gibbons says happiness is dependent on how we think about our life vs. what’s happening in our life. I know this will shock you, but I didn’t go to Harvard. I just watch a lot of TED Talks.

Things that happen to you are relative.

If you’ve lived a cherished life, losing your job might be the worst thing that’s happened to you. Pretty bad. But not the worst thing conceivable.

Now, imagine someone who’s homeless. They have no family. They have none of the pleasures in life you’re used to. Imagine feeling unhappy in front of that person because you lost a job.

It’d seem pretty insincere. But there’s no way you could imagine the pain the other person’s been through.

Bad things will happen to you. It’s your response to them that will ultimately determine how well you deal with them. And that goes for the good things too.

If you watch the TED talk linked above, you’ll see that someone who loses the power of their limbs and a lottery winner are on roughly the same happiness scale just one year after both events. Which seems crazy, doesn’t it?

But it goes to show we reset our happiness relativity in close timescales.

Five tips to being happier…

As a recruiter, you’re probably an optimist. A cynical one perhaps, but an optimist nonetheless. And optimism has surprising benefits. It’s been scientifically proven optimists tend to be healthier, have better relationships and live longer.

Tip 1: Find three things to be happy about

You’ll get things going against you in life. And it’s easy to think negatively about it all.

But all you have to do to stop this train of thought is think about three things you’re happy about. Your health. Your home. Your friends. Your family. It’s actually quite easy to do.

Tip 2: Think about the negative things in their realistic terms

Whatever’s going against you, it’s easy to blow them out of proportion. OK, so that candidate didn’t get the job. How bad is that really?

Chances are, most negatives are actually quite small.

How much will this particular negative affect you in a year? If the answer’s “not much”, you’ll find moving on a lot easier.


Tip 3: Change your inner voice

Your inner voice is running rampant most of the time you’re awake. And it’ll be throwing out thoughts. Some good. Some bad. Some absolutely devastating when you wonder ‘what if?’.

You need to eradicate the ‘what ifs.’

Worry has no place in your mind. Sure, you can think about the worst case scenario and plan for that eventuality. But, worry on its own has no place in the mind of the happy. Start to eradicate the worry in your mind and you’ll start wondering ‘what if’ in a positive way.

Tip 4: Evaluate your working life

In relation to recruitment, this is extremely important. I’ve written before about the benefits of a good morning routine. You’ll be pleased to know it wasn’t a LinkedIn status where I humble bragged about doing 1,000 sit ups, drinking organic wheat grass shots, before working on my novel.

But merely getting into a healthy morning routine will change your life.

And it’ll make you happier. 

There’s also this article where I talked about work life balance. If you’re working for a business that expects you to be ‘on it’ for 15 hours a day, that’s not balance.

It’ll also almost certainly put you in an early grave and make you unhappy until you get there.

You spend the largest amount of your life at work. So making sure you’re happy there as well as at home is crucial. This article will help you find the balance.

There are lots of companies out there that can help you achieve happiness too.

If you’re looking at your boss or employer right now with regret, there are hundreds of others out there. And at most of them you can earn the same, if not more money. Because the happier you are, the more successful you’re likely to be.


Tip 5: Surround yourself with happiness

Before you look outside to check I’m not hugging trees, spouting about free love, I should probably point out I’m not overly happy first thing in the morning. Actually, I’m averse to those that are.

But knowing that, it makes me happier to have a morning routine that includes keeping to myself.

Knowing what makes you happy and surrounding yourself with those things will have a knock-on effect. That includes friends, colleagues, family members and positive thoughts. Stress breeds stress. Happiness breeds happiness.

If you’ve got friends who only offer stress, you really need to think about how valuable they are to you.

You work in recruitment, so you get plenty of ups and downs.

You don’t need anyone else making your life harder outside of office hours. And you’ll naturally find the longer you work on this, your network becomes full to the brim with great people and advocates of positive thinking.

Knowing you have the capability to make yourself happy is an empowering realisation.

I’ve got the top five regrets at the top of this article stored on my phone.

Hopefully you won’t meet your maker for a long time.

But when you do, if you’ve eradicated those regrets, you’re more likely to leave with a smile on your dial.

Here’s something to help you if you’re at the other end of the spectrum currently.