There was a time when one would pick up a newspaper or magazine and be inundated with stories, gossip and news about celebrities and diets, romance and shoes. These topics are still of great moment, of course, but they are buried now. Not in the women's glossies, I grant you. After all, that stuff sells. It's timeless, riveting and very important. But, in the mainstream press the trend has shifted subtly in these recession and budget cutting days to focus less on the acquisition of stuff, luxury holidays and the wanton consumption and disposal of more, towards other issues; war, tsunamis and economic strife. And on the ubiquitous "Lifestyle" pages, the emphasis is shifting from diets to domesticity, from hedonism to happiness, from making more money to making more out of less.
There is even a trend that suggests that well-being is more than just having good hair, heels and handbags.
This is great. The Zeitgeist is for once simpatico with my own interests and beliefs. The last time that happened I was perhaps 8 and my interests were the Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, Holly Hobby and tennis...
Anyway, perhaps in terms of column space and words printed nothing is very different, but they say one notices what one is noticing - and on that basis it seems every man, woman and their dog is jumping on the happiness bandwagon.
Google it and see.
Three years ago when I began running workshops for professionals in transition aimed at helping them identify and play to their strengths, align their values and interests with their work and hopefully achieve a greater sense of purpose and happiness, I coined the phrase "Spring to Mind Spa". Thinking I was onto something I even bandied the word around in the City. Then I waited for the in-house bookings to overwhelm me.
I admit, I am still waiting.
You see, the key selling point of coaching or learning interventions had to be geared around success and helping clients to meet their potential. Senior, successful and respected coaches advised me not to use words like well-being or happiness in pitching to law firms or corporate clients - to be sure to leave such concepts strictly to the new age life coaches working in the suburbs or the communes, the retreats or the workshops for crystal loving pottery and bead types. Wake up Springgirl, executives and their employers do not need, want or care about happiness and well-being! You will not win business if you even mention the word "spa" at work!
Now, not so much. Times are changing. This is the era of pay freezes, unemployment, price rises and middle class families who thought three holidays a year and private school was their entitlement, forced to move house to access state schools. Over the long, usually not very hot summer we now learn the tedium/beauty of the "staycation". Just as well we have a government that propounds a "Big Society", eh? Though just who will wind up footing the bill for housing, illness and education is anyone's guess.
So there was never a better time to champion the virtues of simple living, a sense of community, altruism, spending less. It's just as well money cannot buy happiness, 'cos there isn't any money to spend.
Employee wellness is not a strange idea. Indeed in the US tax incentives help to bring the idea to the threshholds of many small and medium size businesses. The US?!
One day the weird and crazy notion that a happy and engaged person is also a productive person may take root.
That day is coming. Watch this space!
Check out these resources if happiness and well-being are of interest to you: