According to research conducted by Teresa Amabile happy people are more creative and productive. http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2012/02/employee_happiness_matters_more_than_you_think.html
This may not fit with the image of tortured creative artists who endure great anguish in their struggles to achieve greatness (think Michaelangelo, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec). Hey, that's okay. If the data says it's true, I'm willing to believe it.
Earlier this week, my wife Lee and I attended a presentation by former Kraft Canada CEO Doug Smith on the subject of Happiness: The Art of Living With Peace, Confidence and Joy http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0986070807?pc_redir=1412239484&robot_redir=1Doug is a dynamic and vibrant public speaker with an extremely compelling and provocative message: we can learn how to become and stay contented in our daily lives. Doug seems to have mastered these skills as he appears to be very much at ease, despite the cruel hand that fate has dealt him.
A few years ago, Doug learned that he had incurable blood cancer. That news would be enough to devastate most anyone. Instead, Doug used it as a springboard to seek to understand how to master the skills necessary to achieve and maintain happiness. Now, his personal mission is to spread the word and teach these skills to others, and he donates all of the proceeds from his talks to Ohio State University's James Cancer Research Center, where he currently receives treatment (and is responding well, by the way).
His message is that happiness is the result of being at peace with one's past, being contented and confident in the present, and having optimism and faith about the future. He discusses that barriers to happiness include:
Carrying around negative thoughts about events and people from the past, including the triggers that can cause us to become angry and resentful. These are corrosive our mental and or physical well being. Therefore, we need to learn to let these things go. Easier said than done? Sure, so that's where Doug's skills come in.
Allowing ourselves to become distracted from being present in the moment. This can include the persistent checking of emails, and choosing to engage in other avoidable activities and attention sponges while we are with others. Doug suggests we literally partition our homes so that when one steps over a particular threshold (e.g. kitchen), he is only to do what is expected in that space...and not carry over items (such as work) from the exited location.
Worrying about possible failure to achieve certain desired goals or threats of adverse outcomes. We need faith (whether spiritual, religious or other) to enable us to have a sense of optimism for the future even if we may currently be facing a difficult time or a setback.
While happy people are more creative, innovation can be a messy process that tends to invite interpersonal conflict. Even so, conflict and happiness aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. http://iveybusinessjournal.com/topics/innovation/why-innovation-happens-when-happy-people-fight#.VEOT8BnD_qBIn fact, constructive disagreement can lead to greater outcomes than if everyone opts to agree in order to avoid conflict.
Based on Doug's terrific talk, I am convinced that each of us has potential to be considerably happier in our lives than we currently are. If we pursue this course, it should help us to experience greater life success in a variety of areas, including innovation.