What counts? Does productivity = happiness?

Posted by in All Articles, In search of wisdom blog | 1 comment

How do we measure what makes life worthwhile?  When the dotcom bubble burst, hotelier Chip Conley went in search of a business model based on happiness. In an old friendship with an employee and in the wisdom of a Buddhist king, he learned that success comes from what you count.  Watch Chip’s 20 min talk on what he found.

What’s pretty amazing is that we don’t really measure happiness on a meaningful level at work or in government.  I’m not even sure we have a good way to do this yet.  Oh sure, we look at indicators of things that *might* mean that the general populace is more or less happy for a specific time period.   Attrition rates  and productivity seem to be our only key indicators.

Is our productivity really the measure of happiness or success?  This seems like an idea that has become outmoded and more related to the last century than this one.  Looking at this symbolically, I doubt that continuing to look at ourselves as if we were factories is at all useful to our well-being.  What’s productive about a walk through the park on a warm summer day?  What’s productive about sharing a delicious meal with friends?  What is productive about many of the things we can do each day that bring us a sense of peace or even joy?

I spent last evening watching my 4 year old niece while her folks went out for dinner.  We watched the Muppets (3 episodes, each watched twice) and we made puppets out of paper bags and ribbons.  There was nothing at all productive about what we did, not even the creation of the puppets was about ‘getting them done’.  We both totally enjoyed the experience of playing and collaborating on our creations.  To my niece, if something was ‘silly’ it was good and for us everything was silly.   Ok well maybe brushing teeth and going to bed wasn’t silly but it wasn’t exactly all about being productive either.   This is the sometimes delicate balance of the Child and the Adult archetypes.  Go ahead, do something silly and unproductive.  It might be the happiest, most successful part of your day.

One Comment

  1. Great article, Julienne, and thanks for the reminder that when I’m feeling unproductive or unsuccessful, I may just need to shift my perspective. Maybe I should “count” all that stuff I did that I thought didn’t “count.”

    Phew! I feel better already!

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