The World Is Changing: A Different Approach to Personal Satisfaction
The world is changing around us. The ongoing crises, the collapse of the financial system and recent ecological disasters are clear signs for this. More and more people are asking the question: are we still on course, can we continue with the same measures and concepts of economic growth in the future without creating serious damages to us, to the nature and planet earth?
Romania has looked very jealously to the West wishing to catch up as quickly as possible with their standard of living and consumption habits believing that this is the key to happiness. When you listen to politicians recently in no matter what country, we still hear the same arguments that where used in the 50’s: we have to stimulate the economy, we need growth and this will bring us prosperity and happiness. Is this really true?
Let’s not talk about rising unemployment here, neither ecological disasters nor rising poverty. Let’s focus on how the people feel in our economies. Are they healthy and happy?
In the last years, we can observe a sharp rise in most stress related illnesses in richer countries like depression, heart desease and cancer. Recent cases of death of some young employees in Romanian companies, due to stress, have brought the issue of stress into public attention.
More detailed data is available for Germany for example, which is considered very often as the most powerful economy in Europe. Is the economic model that many admire really so attractive and bringer of happiness? Interesting facts are showing the opposite: 85% of managers have some kind of stress symptoms, 9 million people are supposed to have some kind of burn out symptoms, 4 million people are suffering from depression.
A recent study from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland revealed that nearly 90% of the company staff has lost identification with their jobs, with their companies and nearly 20 % have already mentally quit their jobs.
A famous think tank in England, The New Economics Foundation, has carried out a world wide study last year and developed an indicator of happiness, the “happy planet” index. This one was not based on ecomomic data alone but more on personal satisfaction, the relation with the environment. The happiest where those civilisations which didn't link their happiness to excessive consumption. It was not surprising that the richest nations got very bad scores and finished in the last quarter of the 150 or so countries in the world.
We have thought for a long time, that happiness is connected to material well being, things are showing us that this apparently is not the case. There must be more to life, something that could make us so “resistant” that even a crisis cannot destabilize us.
In numerous discussions with managers in top positions, we can observe that people ask questions about the sense of what they are doing: Why am I here? Why do I sacrifice so much of my life to get finally so little? How can I find satisfaction again and fulfillment in the job and how to avoid burnouts? People start to think, there seems to be a shift in the mindset.
Surprisingly enough, if you look at seminars on human resources in Western countries, you find a shift in topics. HR managers are talking more and more about values, how to give sense to the activities of the staff. What can be done to make a contribution for a better world? How we can transform the company target in such a way that we serve the community better?
It is encouraging that some companies especially in US, India and Japan are already putting into practice some of these ideas. They authentically try to enrich their value system, thinking about what they produce and how (do we have “good products”), thinking about what spirit they want to create in the company with their staff, thinking about what the contribution for the environment is. More and more companies are creating feng shui spaces or even decorating their office space buildings with feng shui elements in order to create the right atmosphere and energy.
What can each of us do in order to increase his or her personal happiness?
„85% of managers have some kind of stress symptoms, 9 million people are supposed to have some kind of burn out symptoms, 4 million people are suffering from depression"
Think about these observations for a second:
No matter what you do at the moment, open room for new things in you, go on an exciting journey to your own person, to what makes you specific, independent of status and money: try to discover your real inner self. Now it is the time. Maybe you will choose spirituality, or on mediation, or yoga or any other path to reach your internal balance. Not to run so much for material things outside but to look for real happiness inside.
To invest in personal development, not necessarily in learning more techniques and concepts, no, just to have experiences that open up the vision field. Yoga for example has become widespread in European countries only since a decade or so. In Germany, major media sources like FOCUS praise Yoga to be an efficient way against stress. Believe it or not, even some German football players have a Yoga coach in order to prepare them mentally for the games. Great spiritual teachers arise like Eckart Tolle, who has become famous with his books “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”.
Try to cultivate your awareness and sense of observation of everything that is happening around you. Try to understand and feel the principle of unity that we are all one and connected. You cannot do anything without having an impact on others around you. Quantum physics tells us that we are living in one huge energy field that is connecting everything but also responding to us and that we also can influence. Your mind determines your vision of the world and we know this. You certainly have negative and positive examples of people in your entourage who are happy and of others complaining all the time. We must understand it is their choice.
Try a more conscious way of consuming. Of course it is nice to consume, and the modern world has brought many significant inventions that improve our life conditions. All this is true and should not be denied. What is to be questioned here is a more conscious way to consume, to enjoy but not to become victim of it, not to fall into the trap of permanent comparison with neighbours, collegues or friends which can be a source of frustration. Stress and unhappiness often come from a large discrepancy between what we are really deep inside and what we would like to be, in terms of image, ego and social standing.
Enrich your present activity by new dimensions that are creators of sense, either in the company you are working in, or in your private environment. There may be a place to enroll in a charity organization, or with child care or to take care of disabled people who are looking for help.
Evaluate again social contacts, friends and family, just the simple fact of sharing already makes us happier, may it be wealth, experiences, emotions or just attention and presence. In a recent declaration, both investor Warren Buffet and Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced that hundreds of American billionaires should give at least 50 % of their wealth to charity. Many of them agreed. Of course it would be much better to think about sharing before getting rich, to make it a state of mind.
Step by step our awareness, individual and collective will change. We will contribute to a change in the value system in our companies and societies. Initiatives have been launched recently like the creation of a Romanian branch of the Spiritual Venture network which was founded in Germany. This platform brings business people from all industries together to discuss about new ways of making business, about the integration of business and spirituality.
I wish you success in your personal management of happiness!
Michael Schröder, Partner, Stein & Partner
Michael Schröder has studied economics in Germany. Then he moved to Paris for an MBA. During that time he also finished his PhD about international Marketing strategies for media. He worked for 17 years in the media business, first at European Television Channel Arte, then within Burda publishing group in München, Belgrade and Bucharest. He worked until recently as General Manager of Burda Romania and joined the largest Executive Search company Stein & Partners beginning of 2010.