“The Happiness Track”: Managing Your Energy

…(T)ime is not the commodity we should be tracking and managing, Seppälä argues. Instead, we need to manage our energy. Kira M. Newman, Greater Good, about The Happiness Track

Newman above refers to Emma Seppälä, science director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University and author of The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success (2016). An elaboration on the quote:

In Seppälä‘s formulation, we drain ourselves of energy anytime we experience intense negative emotions or thoughts, or struggle against our urges and desires. If we allow ourselves a walk during lunchtime but are consumed by worries about our afternoon workload, we’ve drained energy rather than gained it—yet the same amount of time has elapsed. If we have to peel ourselves out of bed morning after morning running a sleep deficit, it takes a toll on our vitality, even though we have more waking hours to get things done.

Seppälä talks to Mary Brophy Marcus, CBS News, about an unfortunate trend in our culture: “We have accepted overextension as a way of life. We’re so addicted to an adrenaline-fueled lifestyle.” Ultimately, she adds, stress levels go up by day and then come down at night with the aid of “medicines and drink. Then the next day, we get up and what do people do when they’re tired, they drink more caffeine. We are whipping our nervous systems back and forth.”

In The Happiness Track the author names six qualities that “will contribute to both our productivity and our happiness. In effect, they’re also ways to boost energy without making big changes to our schedules” (Greater Good):

1. Full presence. “…(S)top multitasking and break free from our technological distractions, and incorporate the practices of meditation and savoring into our routine.”

2. Resilience. “…(W)e don’t give our bodies time to calm down and activate our natural resources for repair and healing. As a result, we exist in a constant state of tension that strains our body and mind. To fight the frazzle, we have to relearn the basics of taking care of ourselves: adequate sleep, healthy food, exercise, and deep breathing.”

3. Calm. “Seppälä debunks the myth that energy and calm are opposing forces. Instead, she believes calm and energy are key to productive work and a happy life…”

4. Rest.Creativity…requires rest and free time for new ideas to bubble up, interlace, and recombine…”

5. Self-compassion. “…Self-compassion inspires us to learn from failures and try again, while self-criticism might lead to giving up or denying our failures…”

6. Compassion. “…’Givers’ are liked, appreciated, and influential, as long as they set boundaries and don’t get taken advantage of. In a compassionate culture, employees are both happier and more productive. Not to mention that solid relationships at work can buffer against any stress and anxiety we experience there.”

Seppälä in person:

Selected Reviews

Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind: “Your ideas about success are probably all wrong—and you need The Happiness Track, Dr. Emma Seppälä’s investigation into the counterintuitive factors that create career and life success. The best news of all? All these skills are well within your grasp.”

Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D.: “The Happiness Track provides us with a highly-readable, science-backed solution to obtaining sustainable success, the sort of success we are all really striving for, that leaves us fulfilled, happy, and healthy.”

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Hardwiring Happiness: “A fast-paced, practical book with profound implications. Remarkably, happiness feels good because it is good for our health, relationships, and work…”

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