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All About You: What’s on your ‘happiness list’?

All About You by Richard Hawk

EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

What makes you happy? I know that a fresh cup of coffee in the morning gives me pleasure. So does taking a brisk walk with my dog. But extensive research on the subject of happiness reveals that there is much more to living happily than a succession of enjoyable moments.

One thing that can help you live a happier life is to know what truly makes you happy. So, ask yourself: What is it that makes you happy, particularly during the many hours you spend performing your job as a safety and health professional? What makes you feel fulfilled and enriches your experiences?

We often use what we’ve checked off our to-do list as a meter for our happiness. Less often do we consider the subtle aspects of our professional life that give us a measure of delight or, more important, lasting satisfaction.

No doubt your “happiness list” will be different from mine in some aspects, but overall I’ll bet it would have a lot of the same major elements. (For example, you might enjoy tea or milk instead of coffee, but we both surely enjoy laughing.) Here is a list of things that I consider and do that I know help me be happier. I hope it will do the same for you.

Regularly remind yourself of the contributions you make that uphold your values and help other people live safer and healthier lives.

After a while, it’s easy for safety and health professionals to forget just how important our jobs are, especially our impact as teachers and motivators. Although it’s a bit dated, here’s one of my favorite thoughts on the subject:

“The greatest possible field for economy is not in saving materials but in promoting the safety of our people. The future of the safety movement is not so much dependent upon the invention of safety devices as on the improvement of methods of educating people to the ideal of caution and safety.”
– Excerpted from Walter Dill Scott’s letter to the National Safety Council in 1921

Be aware of the enjoyment you get from your daily encounters.

When I was a full-time safety supervisor, one of my favorite parts of the job was hanging out in the maintenance shop during lunch. Not only did I get to find out what was going on in the field, but the visit also raised my spirits because I usually heard about something funny or interesting. My stop at the shop was sometimes the highlight of my workday.

Along a similar line, being mindful of the simple pleasures you experience during your workday (like that morning cup of coffee or a greeting from a colleague) – rather than just rushing from one task to another – will boost your good feelings.

Be generous and charitable, especially with your time.

This one is a solid happiness generator that often baffles researchers. You’d think that it would be in our best interest to keep what we’ve got and spend most of our time on ourselves. Not so. Across the board, helping others – especially by giving them our time and attention – has been proven to be one of the best ways to experience a happy life.

My wife and I still cherish the time we spent, nearly 40 years ago, as a young couple singing songs at children’s hospitals and senior homes. We had some of the best and most memorable events of our lives – so much so that we’ve decided to do it again! We got the recent inspiration to revive our act from a retired professional musician and friend who told us he is also having the best time of his life performing charity shows for senior citizens, who are thrilled to have their spirits lifted with music.

Whether we do it as an act of charity, as our job, or simply as a caring neighbor and fellow human, helping others boosts our mental satisfaction. It makes us happy!

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps companies around the world create more vibrant safety cultures by showing them how to make safety fun. As a professional speaker, author and musician, he also inspires employees to focus better and enlightens safety leaders about ways to increase their influence. To learn more about Richard, visit


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