By now, many of you have probably purchased or are familiar with Zappos, the online retailer that has turned "happiness" into a corporate mission, not just a fun tagline. I've had the great pleasure of coming to know CEO Tony Hsieh whose book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose has not only become required reading among my employees, but also has become a bestseller. In it, Tony taps into a simple, universal truth: if you ask someone “what do you want most?” no matter what they say, if you continue to ask, “why do you want that?” eventually, we all answer the same way – because I want happiness.
Why is the concept of happiness so simple, but the pursuit so complex?
So what is it that China, Taylor Swift, and the others have in common? They are all trying to define what it means to be happy. In China, happiness has become a fad as the government switches gears from the mantra of “to get rich is glorious” to a simple, yet zealous, “be happy” campaign. A recent study of 15 other countries, published in the Journal of Politics & Policy, suggests that countries with big governments have happier citizens (the US holds the 10th place award while Norway ranks No. 1). The Economist readers are voting in the latest debate: Happiness: Are new measures of economic and social progress needed for the 21st-century economy?, and Facebook is putting together a Gross National Happiness Index based on user’s mood messages (like, “Yay, I found a babysitting job on Care.com!”). For Taylor Swift, it is talking about staying open to love and how happiness is a top priority for her. Another recent study supports this emphasis on personal connections with others, suggesting that the place we find the most happiness is in our meaningful social relationships above all else. I feel passionately that this last point is where we can put technology to work – seeking out meaningful relationships. Something that I hope we are facilitating here at Care.com.
What makes you happiest? Spending time with your family or friends? Satisfaction at work? Post a comment, and take our Happiness Poll!