Nice people put other people first, or do they?

Happiness – after you!

One thing we frequently come across when delivering our 2-day university accredited ‘Introduction to Positive Psychology’ course, is that some people struggle with the concept of focusing on their personal happiness. They have a deep-seated belief that it is selfish to think about one’s own happiness and think instead that emphasis should be placed on the happiness of their friends and family, or even strangers before themselves.

We disagree

First, we don’t think it is a selfish act to be as happy as possible. In fact, we go further and suggest that unless we make our own happiness a priority we won’t be equipped to care for the happiness of others. When we are happy we tend to bring forth the best of ourselves and positively affect those around us. We believe that it is the happier bosses, parents, spouses and friends who are likely to be generous, considerate and caring, the opposite of being selfish.

A simple comparison

Think about the last time you felt happy. How did you look and sound? How was your behaviour and attitude to others? Now, compare this to the last time you felt upset or miserable and compare the two. Typically, you’ll respond that when you were happy you were sociable, smiling and considerate, the opposite of the more negative condition when you are likely to have been withdrawn and introspective.

Responsibility for self

Looking after your wellbeing is your responsibility, after all if you don’t do it, who will? Happiness is associated with many benefits. For instance, you may find you’ll be healthier and a better employee taking less time off work because of illness. Or/and a more energetic parent who can play with their children. You’ll more easily connect with people, to become a better friend and colleague who is likely to help others. Does any of this sound like acts of selfishness to you?