Over the last few years, I have occasionally bumped into a very happy looking man during French-speaking learning conferences like the Epsilon Forum+ 2012. I also saw him once at a well-being conference I attended with my wife in Namur. His name: Michel Schwarz. His mission: Help make people happy. His company: Happiness (Inside Me). His tools: Neuro-science, open-mindedness and a little bit of gamification…
Michel. Thanks for taking the time to do this blog-interview with me. You are interested in happiness and you help people in companies to find their own inner happiness. How does that work?
According to many studies and some basic common sense, every human being wants to be happy. But outside of religious instruction and science of brainwaves there hasn’t been any solid training on how to get happy. As a result, for centuries people have been pushing a whole load of different products, services, movies, jobs etc.. as the source of happiness. But that always leads to a circle of deception and frustration: We feel we deserve happiness but don’t have it, then we have it and lose it again…. back to the next frustration!
So my trainings are based on neurosciences and giving each individual a simple understanding of how our brain, spirit and body create this feeling of happiness. Starting from that new awareness, participants start to better manage their own energy and motivation, understanding that the real sources of happiness are internal. They can make the difference between primitive and successful behaviour, discover what makes themselves work most efficiently, collaborate better… And this leads to better mental and physical health, cooperation, creativity, adaptability, leadership…
You mention this frustration people have and I think it is possibly a result of the fact that, living in 2012, we feel almost obliged to be happy. In my mind, it’s not as if life is particularly difficult. Certainly not compared to, for example, my Nan’s life during the second world war. Not being happy is like a “luxury problem”. So what can we do about it?
To get happier is certainly neither compulsory, nor easy. It has never been a priority for human beings to be happy in the past, because for centuries our entire (short) life was dedicated to survival. But in the new world of 2012, for those who have food, drink and warmth it’s important to understand the next step to reach a better life. We have many chances in 2012 that are new to humans: We can look inside heads and see how a brain works! We can see what’s in our blood and which behaviour and lifestyles make people happier. And we can compare this things with others, all around the world.
The main conclusion of all this is that happiness can be reached by all kinds of people: rich or poor, healthy or not, single or married.. We can all learn how to get happier, change our habits and even our brain, to feel more positive emotions and serenity! So I think the first important advice I can give is to encourage people to get involved in the pursuit of happiness themselves. Try to see, feel and understand what “turns you on” and seek out more of it.
You followed my Epsilon 2012 session on the gamification of learning and afterwards told me that you think the approach could be useful for learning how to be happy. How is that?
By its own nature, gaming creates happiness (unless you forget the pleasure of playing by only focusing on winning). Games are fundamentaly fun, even around serious topics. Fun creates open-mindedness. And open-mindedness allows for the creation and integration of new ideas. As you play, you feel secure. You are totally focused, in the present moment, so you stop brooding. Games are natural (ask your kids!). They help create pleasant emotions.
But in addition to these immediate gains, game-playing can help to create to anchor behaviour via positive emotions. If we can learn what makes us happy through game-playing and the play itself creates all these positive feelings, it is more likely that we will anchor that learning, remember and come back to it later.
Graduate in economic sciences and “neuro-comportementalisme” and passionate about psychology, Michel Schwarz is an entrepreneur renowned for his application of new technologies and his ability to share his knowledge. In his career spanning so far over 20 years, he has directed and inspired teams of 4 to 100 people without ever having the impression of working. Since 2010, Michel Schwarz has been sharing his experience via training and consultancy.