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    The Importance of Being Happy

    Posted by Luis Serpa on July 8, 2010 - 11:39 PM

    Be Happy!

    Various business and self-help books talk about success driven traits and behaviors. They will often praise the advantages of having good communication skills, the value of innovation, the benefits of assertiveness and even the importance of being earnest.

    They are all mostly right, but they usually forget a more basic trait that is at the core of any successful project I’ve been involved with in the past 20 years: Happiness.

    You should never underestimate the power of being cheerful. As an user experience expert, I learned in the course of my career that human beings are driven by what they feel and believe (perceptions & expectations) a lot more often than they are by rational thinking. So much so that, in almost any situation one faces, you can achieve more with a smile and a cheerful attitude than what any amount of reasoning could provide.

    But you may ask: how this post relates to User Experience Design?
    Well… It doesn’t!! At least not directly. Nonetheless, happy groups are proven to deliver better results and happy users have more goodwill towards the systems they are using. The first improves the chances of the second having a better user experience and the second will more readily recognize the efforts of the first, making them feel more rewarded and, thus, making everyone happier. It’s a virtuous cycle.

    Actually, being happy is so effective in facilitating change that it is linked to numerous “ripple effects” scenarios that eventually produced massive cultural shifts (see here a very entertaining presentation on “Creating Cultural Change” by John Rauser). Genuinely happy people can change other people’s behavior and, if persistent enough, this change can ripple outward until a tipping point is reached and, suddenly, an entire organization or society will change before your eyes. (for more on the subject see “The Tipping Point”, by Malcolm Gladwell)

    Here’s how you do it:

    1. Start by being sincerely happy (in fact, you need to be relentlessly and unashamedly joyful)
    2. Have fun with what you do (even if no one else gets it) and invite others to join in
    3. Keep trying new things (and be optimistic about their outcome)
    4. Be contagious (with laughs please, not the flu…) :)
    5. Be persistent (don’t be influenced by other people’s grumpiness)

    For me, in particular, being happy is more than just a state of mind, it is an essential tool in my day-to-day work. User Experience Design is intrinsically dependent on one being capable of transforming a bad experience into a good one and it’s amazing how hard this task can be when you are not glad to begin with…

    So, the next time you have a difficult UX Project ahead of you, don’t worry... Be happy!

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    2 Responses to “The Importance of Being Happy”

    1. Jeannie Walters says:

      Luis – love this for a lot of reasons, mostly because it reminds me of how contagious YOUR laugh is!

      One of the tricks I’ve used with call center reps and my children alike is this – fake a smile. Go ahead, fake it. See if you can NOT be happy when you do that for a while. There’s actually proof that your brain doesn’t always know the difference, so if you get those muscles to grin, your brain responds with happy thoughts. Cool, huh? :-D

    2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeannie Walters and John Carey, Corie Kaftalovich. Corie Kaftalovich said: RT @jeanniecw: The importance of being happy – an User Experience Article | Standing Out From The Crowd: via @luiserpa […]

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