C’mon get happy

Our new blogger Dr Timothy Sharp from the UTS Business School is better known as Dr Happy. In the coming months he’ll show you how to use positive psychology to improve your company’s performance

Timothy Sharp Happiness Institute

By Timothy Sharp

Have you ever asked yourself: “Is this as good as it gets?” Do you ever think that life and work should be more fun and more fulfilling? Would you like to have less stress and more happiness in your life?

Well I’m here to tell you that your life can be better. You can have more fun and you can even look forward to going to work!

Let me start by introducing myself. Some people refer to me as Dr Happy, but my real name is Dr Timothy Sharp. I’m not a medical doctor, but the title comes from having completed a PhD in psychology. 

Before that, I completed a masters degree in clinical psychology and prior to that, a science degree with honours in psychology. All up, I spent more than 10 years formally studying psychology at university, so I guess I know a thing or two about what makes people tick and about why they do what they do.

For most organisations there are few issues more important than finding and keeping (as well as getting the most out of) the best people, which is one of the reasons I’ve recently been appointed an adjunct professor (Positive Psychology) at UTS Business School.

Now as strange as it might seem, despite all those years studying human behaviour and emotion, I didn’t learn anything at university about happiness or joy or passion or flourishing or success; instead, all our courses focused on stress and depression, failure and pain!

Now I know full well that this negative side of the human experience is important, especially depression which affects millions of people, but at the same time I passionately believe that in addition to addressing these areas of concern we also need to address, and to capitalise on, what we now know about the benefits of positive emotion. In the workplace, for example, teams and organisations that experience more positive emotion outperform comparable teams on almost every measure you can imagine.

So what do I do, and how is it relevant to you?

Well, these days I spend my time helping people and businesses to create psychological wealth rather than just reduce emotional debt by speaking at conferences, consulting to organisations, and with my team, providing coaching services.

How does it all work? Well, some of the more popular and effective strategies include creating optimism and resilience within individuals and teams; encouraging the practice of gratitude and appreciation; building more positive relationships (between staff and between staff and clients); helping people to identify and utilise their strengths; and having fun. And this is what I look forward to writing about in future columns as well as answering any questions you choose to send in.

So welcome to my new SmartCompany blog in which I intend to focus predominately on how you can apply the principles of positive psychology in your life and in your business. Thanks for reading me and I look forward to receiving your thoughts, comments and questions.



Dr. Sharp’s latest book (published August 2008) is “100 Ways to Happiness: a Guide for Busy People” (Penguin).  You can find out more about corporate programs, presentations, and coaching services at www.drhappy.com.auand www.thehappinessinstitute.com.  You can also ask him questions using the Comments panel below




Tim Davis writes: From one Tim to another, please get to the point quicker. I was more depressed by the time it took to get to “How does it work”. If you want business people to read your columns, remember what you wrote and most important take action, then get to the point. This is why some of us change TV channels, because I hate the tease to stay tuned for an important message. “Here’s how it works” should have been the opening sentence. Timothy Sharp replies: Hi Tim and thanks for the feedback. I thought it would be useful to introduce myself first up but I’ll certainly take your feedback into consideration when writing future blogs.

Anthea Lowe writes: Hello Dr Happy. According to that Melbourne University study published this week, 16% of ALL mental illness is caused by work related stress! We can’t hide our heads in the sand – help us Dr Happy! 🙂

Anna writes: When you aren’t in charge sometimes it is hard to bring happiness. I am a cheerful person but right now everyone is so gloomy and so stressed at work. I always say hello and pop notes in others pigeon holes but still every one is down. Things at work are bad but it is there anything I can do? A lot of the staff talk to me and ask what is going on, which I cannot answer any better than they can. I’d love some ideas.

Timothy replies: Dear Anthea and Anna, you’re both touching on the very important issue of stress and negativity at work, variables that suck the life out of teams and organisations and contribute to reduced productivity and increased turnover (among other things). Rather than trying to respond to your issues in just a few short words here, I thought I’d dedicate a whole blog entry to providing you with some ideas to start tackling this vitality virus so keep your eyes open over the next few weeks for a special column.



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