Have you read the book “Lean In” by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg yet? In professional women’s circles, it’s all the rage. It has sparked conversations about whether women can truly ‘have it all’, and whether they even want to. But it misses a key point related to positive psychology – it’s focused on success rather than happiness. What about our innate simple desire to be happy? Carin Rockind explores this in her essay, “Lean In to Happiness Instead”.
I am consistently amazed by how many successful, professional women with VP titles and six-figure salaries flock to my Happiness Workshops because they are starving for just one taste of joy. Yes, accomplishment is an ingredient of happiness, but so are healthy relationships, an abundance of positive emotions and greater life purpose. Too many women today are racing so furiously to do everything that we have no time to just be. Sure, our smiles are perky and our handshakes firm, but underneath it all, we aren’t happy. We’re panicked that we can’t get it all done, worrying that we’re constantly disappointing someone, angry that we are passed up for the promotion and sad that we have no time to relax. We’re trying to balance six plates on five perfectly manicured fingers, and it isn’t working.
While common Western wisdom believes that success leads to happiness, hundreds of research studies show that the opposite is true. Happy people are more successful in every possible measure. Happy people are physically healthier, have better relationships and are more productive at work. Customers like working with happy staff; employees prefer a happy boss. You get the idea.
As is, most people hate their jobs. According to Gallup, approximately 70% of all employees dislike their jobs, leading to $300 billion in lost profitability annually. For women, though, the added stress of unequal power and status, role prioritization between executive/lover/mother, plus our genuine concern for others escalates our unhappiness.
We are too important to the workplace to allow this to continue. It’s time to end this madness. Let’s claim our happiness and demand it at home and in the workplace. We still make most of the home and purchasing decisions, so we need to take a stand. As the old adage says, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
But happiness doesn’t mean another gift certificate for a mani/pedi. It means creating opportunities for the distinct challenges that women face. It means honoring the powerful nature of creative feminine energy. It means not only supporting a woman’s biological right to have a baby, but also leveraging her nurturing instinct in general. How many companies know that most women are motivated intrinsically by collective, social action? Those who do could be at a huge advantage.
Ladies, here is our responsibility. We need to believe that we deserve happiness above all else. We need to own it and claim it. We need to love our full selves and bring that confidence to work and life. Rather than follow conformist rules about who you should be or what you ought to do, know that your voice matters, that your essence is electric and speak up with pride. Know that you offer strengths that no one else does. Use them. Forget balance and work for integration, getting very clear on what YOU need to be happy. Do you need 30 minutes once a week by yourself to exhale the stress? Do you need one night a month to be with girlfriends so that you can recharge your batteries and feel sexy? Does having time to paint or read or garden feed your soul? Then claim it. People treat your time as you allow them to, so if you don’t protect your need happiness time, why should others? Know what matters and put a stake in the ground. Believe that you are worthy of happiness. And know that in claiming your happiness, it will lead to greater success.
So should we lean in? Maybe. But how about companies also extend out? Know what motivates women – and every employee for that matter. Humans are happiest when they are appreciated for who they are. We thrive when working our strengths, not trying to fix weaknesses or fit into norms. Ask for our opinions, solicit our ideas, lean into us and learn. Empower us to be us and we’ll all win.
Empowerment coach and transformative speaker, Carin Rockind elevates women to be rockstars in life. Working with individuals and companies, she combines her expertise in Positive Psychology with experience as a trauma survivor and former Fortune 500 exec to support professional women to being truly happy and wildly successful. Find more information on www.carinrockind.com, Facebook or Twitter.