We’re continuing our celebrations of World Happiness Day today by sharing with you our own personal top reads on inspiring and creating happiness.
Although I’m not a big reader, I’ve got many favourites reads around the topic of happiness, positive and humanistic psychology.
One book however that is always top of the list top of the list, one that I still make a point of reading at the start and end of every year, is The Human Element by Will Schutz.
It’s my self-help guidebook if you like!
When I first read it over 10 years ago now, I couldn’t put it down. It connected with me at a deeply emotional level (ok it was more like a slap around the face by a friendly fish telling me to wake up!) It opened up my eyes to a whole new world of being, enabling me to become more aware of myself and others. It helped boost my self-esteem, unlocking new levels of confidence, courage and charisma I never knew I had at the time. It also set me off on an epic journey to strive to achieve my full potential and I’ve never looked back!
“Human beings have no limits to their potential. Our only limits are limits of beliefs.” - Will Schutz
I can’t recommend it enough to anyone wanting to learn about what really drives our behaviour as humans, especially in relations with others, and gain some simple but incredibly powerful techniques to unlock your full potential. It's also a brilliant lead for leaders, helping unlock their own personal power but also their power to inspire great performance from others.
“By creating environments that invite people to feel significant, competent and likeable, you reduce the level of fear and create environments that are more conducive to honesty, collaboration, accountability and fun!”
Whether it’s a blog, magazine, newspaper, book or poem, reading can relax us, open our minds, spark curiosity, make us laugh, make us cry and have a big impact on the way we look at things. My reading choice sits very much in the latter. It is a poem very dear to my heart, called The Plum and was first shared with me by a very dear friend (and then line manager) when I was feeling unconfident about my abilities as a shiny new trainer (in the days when we were called trainers!) I would often compare myself to other colleagues and feel I wasn’t as good as them.
So she gave me this poem:
You can learn that you cannot be loved by all people
You can be the finest PLUM in the world,
RIPE – JUICY – SUCCULENT
And offer yourself to all.
However you must remember there will
always be people who do not like plums.
You can learn to understand that if you
are the world’s finest plum,
And someone you like does not like plums
You have a choice of becoming a banana.
However, you need to be warned that if
you choose to become a banana,
You will be a second-rate banana,
However, you can always be the best plum.
You need to understand that if you choose
to be a second-rate banana,
There will always be people who do not like bananas,
Furthermore, you can spend your life trying to become
the best banana (which is impossible if you are a plum),
Or: You can seek again to be the
So, it has become my best friend ever since. I’ve used it on many courses, shared it over the years with friends, my brother, nieces and nephew, when they were feeling a bit down, and it is my go-to read when those little doubts creep in about my own capabilities. I have strived to be the best plum I can ever since… and my advice is so should you!
This Christmas, amidst the doom and gloom of Covid, I was given a brilliant book called ’The Little Book of Lykke’ by Meik Wiking. If you’re not familiar with the term, ‘lykke’ is the Danish word for happiness and Wiking has made it his life’s work to discover the world’s happiest people. As CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, it’s his actual job to measure, understand and generate happiness - and what a job! Built on such incredible knowledge and purpose, ’The Little Book of Lykke’ takes you on a journey to discover the key drivers of happiness from every corner of globe, all brought to life with stories and tips (and hard evidence of course!).
One aspect that stood out for me is the importance of trust in our relationships (in and outside work) for generating happiness. As I discovered through the book, ‘A successful society is one in which people have a high level of trust in each other […]. Social trust spurs a sense of life satisfaction’ (World Happiness Report, 2015). Now interesting to note, Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world and not-so-coincidentally, it also reports high levels of trust across offices up and down the country (89% of Danes express a high level of trust in others, compared to 69% of Brits).
All in all, there’s a lot we can take from this small but mighty book - especially for thinking about how to generate more happiness in the workplace!
I've always loved reading, especially when you find a book that consumes you and you can't put down until its finished. Unfortunately I don't read nearly as much as I would want to these days, which is ironic whilst we've had all this time during our many lockdowns! But I recently got stuck into Shaun Achor's The Happiness Advantage after being made redundant and I loved how it open my
eyes to being happy at work can actually help create success rather than the other way round and that having a company behind you that is interested in helping you reach your potential really resonated with me!
Over the first lockdown I made a conscious effort to read more, realising how much it helps me to unwind (nothing better than a bubble bath and a good book!). One of the books I’ve read recently that’s made a huge difference to me is ‘Not a Life Coach’ by James Smith. James covers so much in this book, but since reading it my happiness levels have increased massively. There are a few things that really resonate with me in this book, but I think the thing that stood out for me the most was “it’s better be halfway up the right ladder than at the very top of the wrong one”. This is really a case of do what you love and what makes you happy – you’ll thrive! In the context of work, I see this as having a sense of meaning, purpose and passion within your job – it’s better to be halfway up the right ladder (doing a job that makes us genuinely happy and fulfils our sense of purpose) than at the top of the wrong ladder (doing a job that brings us no sense of happiness). We’re at our happiest when doing what we love.
We'll be continuing this throughout the week, sharing our top watches, do's and listen's. If you have something that you think we would love, we'd love for you to share it with us! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to our social media pages and let us know there!
Don't look for happiness - create it!