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The Good Life at Work

by Beth on May 12th, 2010

Aristotle said that the greatest human good is to live the good life. So just what is the “good life”? According to Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, Aristotle was talking about successfully using your strengths in the pursuit of activities that fully engage you. It’s about more than happiness or feeling good, it’s about doing good.

People inherently want to do well, to lead successful, fulfilling lives. Work can provide a perfect opportunity for living the good life. Companies that create and maintain environments where people thrive reap benefits such as greater creativity, productivity, and engagement. Everybody wins when life is good!

Two of the most important things that organizations can do to help their employees live the good life at work are to focus on strengths and meaning.

Strengths

People who know what their strengths are and have the opportunity to apply their strengths on a daily basis are happier, more productive, and more likely to experience flow. Flow is a state of intense involvement with the present moment. It occurs when people are deeply engaged in a challenging task that is well matched to their strengths. People tend to experience flow more often when they are working.

Meaning

In his classic 1972 book Working, Studs Terkel described work as a search for “daily meaning as well as daily bread”. Studies show that meaningful work is the job feature that Americans value most. They want to feel that their work contributes to the greater good. It is important to make sure that your employees understand how the work they do makes a difference.

National Geographic employees work for a company that has been “inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888.” Life is good® employees help kids in need through their foundation and festivals. Starbucks baristas know that “it’s just a moment in time — just one hand reaching over the counter to present a cup to another outstretched hand. But it’s a connection.”

Does your company help people live the good life? Do your employees have the opportunity to use their strengths every day? Are they inspired because they know they are making a meaningful difference?

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