The Happiness Initiative


The Happiness Initiative. “We wish you a Happy New Year.”How many times have we heard this phrase? Do we actually realize what it takes to make our next year happy?

A month ago, I was approached by Muhammad Fahd Khan, a UAE based trainer, coach and author. Muhammad asked me to write a page for his Happiness book that will appear in the first quarter of 2017. In March 2016, the corporate happiness and positivity initiative was launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. Muhammad’s book is a wonderful project to participate in the “UAE happiness initiative”. The idea is to spread happiness by sharing happiness. It made me think about how I approach the idea of happiness.

Here’s what I wrote for Muhammad’s book:

The world has changed a lot in the past 10 years and it looks like it will change at an even faster pace in the years to come. We live in an era of information overflow: on a normal business day, a business person gets as much information as reading 170 newspapers. You can imagine that this affects our stress level and, thus, our happiness. I don’t believe that there isn’t a single person who isn’t struggling with this, simply because our brain can’t cope with this multitude of data.

I believe that our happiness is in our own hands, simply by acknowledging the pitfalls, knowing ourselves and acting accordingly. It’s about focussing on the big steps and not getting distracted by small things that just keep us busy. It’s about being aware. Deep down inside, we know what to do to be happy.

My story is about how I try to combine my busy career as an entrepreneur with being a mother, a wife and a good friend and how I include little doses of happiness in every of the afore mentioned aspects in my life.

First of all, I don’t believe in the classic distinction between work and private life. My motto is:

 “If you find your favourite hobby, turn it into a job. And then you will never have to work again.” After a long quest, I was able to start as an entrepreneur and combine the different domains of interest that I have: innovation, travelling, sports, healthy lifestyle, learning new languages and art. My company is active on an international scale as an advisor to organisations on how to use corporate wellbeing as a tool for better productivity. I don’t believe that corporations should be held responsible for their employees’ happiness, because that this is something every person has to create for himself. However, I do believe that a solid corporate culture, clear values and a positive, encouraging atmosphere make the difference between happy organisations with productive employees and “old school” organisations. That’s also one of the reasons why feel inspired by HH Sheikh Mohammed’s vision to increase citizens’ wellbeing and happiness in order to achieve the UAE vision 2021.

For me personally, my vision on happiness has penetrated everything that I do in my life. It affects the way I raise my children, how I work and how I act in my social life. I focus on people’s positive characteristics and encourage everyone (including myself) to continue to build on them. It’s by deploying our biggest talents that we can maximize our potential and become happy and complete human beings. Not by trying to become better in the things we’re not so great at. And the good news is: for everything we don’t like or aren’t good at, there’s a person who gets excited by this particular task. The key in our life is to surround ourselves with a team of different personalities and to accept each other’s differences as complementary to ourselves. If we manage to create a positive vibe where we give others compliments (big or small), this is where happiness becomes bigger than ourselves.

My husband Yves and myself follow this mantra: “Dream. Team. Focus. Network”. If you have a dream in your life, build a team around it. Focus on it (and don’t get distracted). And then: build a network with likeminded go-givers on a global scale who will help you to pursue that dream.  You might be amazed how you will inspire others to follow their dream too and how contagious your positive energy is. And this is exactly what we need to get through these challenging but interesting times.