Re-imagining the workplace: The three stages of happiness


I am aware that last week we almost closed this subject. Well, I am not sorry to continue with it because the subject is important to me and to many.

Who wouldn’t want to learn how to be happy at work and work better? Which business owner or manager wouldn’t want to understand happiness if it comes with the promise to improve productivity?

Growing up in the village, we moulded wuth clay all sorts of goods, animals and properties as part of our playing houses.

My uncle Fusi was outstanding in many ways and would look serious packing things here and there and creating a home scenario.

As the sun set, we knew we had to abandon these and go home and face life. There was something joyful about this time and what we did because it felt real and homely but as you know, that feeling would go when reality confronted us, and we had to go home.

It was temporary first and foremost and bordered on illusion. As kids I think our levels of acceptance were high and so we would leave at that point and head home going back to it the following day, to play with our illusory homes we would eventually leave.

We would finally leave them as we grew older and focused on what a child would call boring adult issues if they could express themselves.

This sharing of my childhood is triggered by candid talk I had with a colleague recently when we observed a very serious man who insists on protocol and decorum because of their background.

They may even ask you to reduce levels of noise when they are around just for their dignity and status. We wondered what makes people want to cling to things when these things are temporary.

If you have been reading my articles you will know that I am no preacher man, no gospel according to B.B and no waiting to go to heaven to be happy but happiness now.

My caution throughout my writing has been attaching happiness to anything. I have even argued that even life itself or good health cannot be attached to happiness because they are temporary.

Does it mean then that we should wallow in self-pity and sadness because we cannot be happy because of being attached to things? No. My argument has been that when we go to happiness via things we set ourselves up for failure, a lot of sadness and sickness.

Today though, I want to present that as a stage of happiness and argue that there are different stages of happiness that one can explore.

These different stages come with their realities and truth, and some come with disadvantages that are deep because when one stays in them, they invite the pain we have aptly described several times.

Let’s make those who believe that attached feelings of good are ‘happiness’ ‘happy.’

We will call that the first stage of happiness which we will call being unconsciously unhappy. Imagine being unconsciously unhappy to be you in a dream, dreaming of many good things, all your dreams of holding certain positions at work and owning certain big properties having come true.

You have all those and you are happy, believing that it’s reality and you have made it. No one ever shakes us when we dream to say ‘hey wake up it’s only a dream…’

We just dream and get lost in the dream only to wake up cursing the whole thing and wishing it was true. The biggest risk that comes with dreaming getting big things is waking up. If waking up was not real, we would be fine and we would love our dreams because they would be reality, but alas.

That is the challenge with attached ‘happiness’ that these things we get attached to are temporary and may leave us anytime. Even during the time of enjoying them if we are attached, we tend to not really enjoy them fully but worry that, ‘what if we lose them?’ That is problematic already.

The second stage of happiness in our reading is consciously happy.

This is when an individual comes to terms with the illusion of attached happiness and decides to seek and embrace unattached happiness.

They begin to engage what are called presence or grounding practices that, if you listen to those who live this life, you will hear them call it going in or working in as opposed to working out. Why? Because happiness is available to you from the inside, it has been established, scientifically.

These do not cease needing food and clothing, no, or even liking nice cars, clothing and houses, good and influential job positions, and other nice things. In fact, the science of the law of attraction says that they 1. Attract these more effortlessly and 2. Enjoy them thoroughly because these come to them in addition to happiness and not vice versa. Did you read that dear reader?

Next week we run by the title; Happiness/Productivity: The Power of How.

The reason for closing this series with that topic is to answer the many questions that have arisen because of this sharing that it is possible to be happy with no things and go on to enjoy things phenomenally without any attachment to them.

The article we present next week delves into the critical issues of method because we make people build castles in the air when we speak beautifully in riddles and leave them wanting.

So, the promise for next week is to expound on this particular stage of happiness because we believe it is the crux of the matter even as one stretches their hand to reach the zenith of happiness.

We refer to the third stage of happiness as being unconsciously happy. This is crazy, right. This is effortless happiness.

The second stage has a lot of work, and some people are still learning and maybe at a point one could refer to as the liminal stage where they still see the land of oppression, even as they have left it.

You might even say that they are, to some extent attached to their practice which is not entirely true but makes some sense.

The unconsciously happy individual has dropped any form of fear and is effortlessly happy. They have trained themselves, of course through practice to view the world as being beautiful.

In other words they have tethered the mind in its entirety and are now free from compulsive thinking which is the source of all unhappiness and pain.

Eckhart Tolle, on this video link, talks about how he doesn’t have to think anymore when he does not want to think.

This answers the question of; ‘what use is this person in the workplace?’

The answer is clear; they become a super thinker…

Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu’s training is in human resources training, development and transformation, behavioural change, applied drama, personal mastery and mental fitness. He works for a Zimbabwean company as human capital executive, while also doing a PhD with Wits University where he looks at violent strikes in the South African workplace as a researcher. Ndlovu worked as a human resources manager for several blue-chip companies in Zimbabwe and still takes keen interest in the affairs of people and performance management. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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