Happy Brain Science Card Game Invite: Monday 9/25

Hello Seattle area HR professionals,

>>> CLICK HERE <<< to go to the Eventbrite invitation to attend our fun-filled happy hour on Monday, 9/25 from 6:00 to 7:30 at the 5th Avenue Seattle Palomino.

Choose Happiness @ Work is a tool for increasing team morale, engagement, and performance, grounded in solid science. Call it “Happiness in a Box” for:

  • Human resource professionals who want to decrease job turnover.
  • Small business owners who want to build strong teams that can solve problems.​
  • Team leaders who want engaged employees that collaborate happily.
  • Anyone who wants to level up the quality and productivity of their work.

It leverages cutting-edge neuroscience and positive psychology to facilitate team development, making it more fun than you thought it could be. In the process, you and your team will learn tools and strategies that you can use again and again to solve problems and boost happiness, creativity and productivity.

* First Round is on Nadine & Paige from Reset Suites who will join us and treat us all to our first happy hour item. (All food and beverages orders after the 1st round will be paid for by the attendee).

Reset Suites LogoReset Suites







Palomino Seattle


Choose Happiness @ Work Card Game

I am super-excited to have recently unpacked my new @ScottCrabtree’s http://community.happybrainscience.com/ card game for how to address common workplace issues with happiness science – IT’S SO COOL!!!  If you are in the Seattle area and want to check it out, I’ll be getting a group of HR folks together at a happy hour (of course!) to play it in the next few weeks.  Please connect with me if you are interested and look for an eventbrite invitation coming soon.  

Thanks to Scott and his team for a really useful (and fun) tool!

Avoiding The Pitfalls of Workplace Happiness

The idea of happiness at work has become more of ‘a thing’ now days.  This is wonderful as for years I’ve been talking about it with the mission to raise awareness – mission accomplished!  Woo-hooo!

However, with the raising awareness of happiness science in the workplace, there are also concerns about the application (or misapplication) of happiness science at work.  A few are:

  • Dr. John Sullivan has posted 12 Good Reasons You Should Be Cautious About Employee Happiness – part 1 and part 2.  I have a lot of respect for Dr. Sullivan and have followed him since the way back days when ERE first started.  The view from both pieces seems to point towards issues around mislabeling and measures.  Also, it seems as if the view of workplace happiness is that it is just fluffy stuff that is not tied to the bottom line with fringe benefits being an example. Also, Dr. John posits that productivity drives happiness. This point is debatable as Shawn Achor and Nic Marc have pointed out.
  • Against Happiness |Economist provides a lopsided view of forced happiness which, to no great surprise, is not really a sustainable or a worthy endeavor.

Luckily, these views are addressable if we keep a few basic guidelines in mind according to 5 Pitfalls of Employee Happiness Initiatives by Dr. Aymee Coget:

  1. Avoid ‘happiness pressure’ and ensure employee buy-in.
  2. Avoid stressed out leaders by ensuring leaders are positive and helping to pull the effort forward.
  3. Avoid using surface level techniques and instead use sustainable happiness strategies.
  4. Implementation must be done properly with a clear thought out plan that delivers as designed.
  5. Avoid making happiness superfluous by using rigorous measures of success aimed at the most meaningful needs.

I can say that I have used very similar points in framing up Happywork as a science-based, metrics driven approach with the leaders I work with and they are very helpful.  The most powerful piece from Dr. Aymee’s list to avoid happiness pressure that we use is what we call the opt-in approach.  I am sure to give ample opportunities to opt-out as we go through each phase of the program.  Participants are exposed to program elements in a methodic way over a period of time and invited to participate in the next of four phases.  From every group, there are always a few that opt-out as they are plenty happy already or the approach just isn’t for them or whatever.  Happywork does not seek to be a fix all or one-size-fits-all.  Our approach is customized like a bottom-up engagement program akin to executive coaching made available to everyone.  Not everyone is motivated to do something about their workplace happiness and so coaching would not be helpful.  Putting the employee or worker in the driver’s seat to be able to chose to participate is the key.

Love & Bonding Boosts Oxytocin for Happiness

In previous posts on Dopamine and Serotonin, it has been pointed out that each person experiences happiness through positive emotional states brought about by a mix of brain chemicals.  Each chemical has an important part to play in happiness.  A major well-being booster of happiness is oxytocin.

Oxytocin has been called ‘the ‘love drug’ by some. An example would be Gary Vey’s blog Understanding LOVE and Oxytocin.  “Bonding provides comfort, safety, security, less anxiety and less fear through the release of oxytocin which inhibits brain centers that usually produce the opposite feelings. Bonding is the behavior that the neural network is hardwired to reward. Bonding also appears to promote health and prolong life.”

One great source of insight on oxytocin is Self-soothing behaviors with particular reference to oxytocin release induced by non-noxious sensory stimulation from Frontiers In Psychology.  “Oxytocin is released in response to activation of sensory nerves during labor, breastfeeding and sexual activity. In addition oxytocin is released in response to low intensity stimulation of the skin, e.g., in response to touch, stroking, warm temperature, etc.” The study goes on to say that “Oxytocin is released in response to pleasant mental experiences. Such a release of oxytocin may, e.g., be induced by seeing, hearing, smelling, or thinking of well known and loved persons…” and so having deep and trusting relations at work where you have bonded with your colleagues is very important.  Another interesting item from this study is the effect of owing and petting dogs which provide for a nice boost of oxytocin…I wonder if it works for cats too?

Effects of oxytocin administration on spirituality and emotional responses to meditation comes from one of my heros, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson.  Dr. Fredrickson and her colleagues published a nice study in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.  This new 2016 research shows “…the first experimental evidence that spirituality, endorsed by millions worldwide, appears to be supported by OT(Oxytocin)” and “…It also boosted participants’ experience of specific positive emotions during meditation, at both explicit and implicit levels.” Yet more research about how great meditation and connectedness are so important.

Oxytocin is awesome stuff for sure.  As Happywork is about workplace happiness, it is worth asking how this applies to a work setting? Well, some key takeaways are:

  1. Create trust and bonding at work through items like brainstorms where everyone is encouraged to speak, all ideas are welcome and no one interrupts to create an open and supportive environment.
  2. Take the time to get to know who you work with on an ever-increasing deeper level.  The time will create opportunities to open up and trust the relationship.
  3. Consider a dog-friendly work space like we have at Avvo!
  4. Meditate, meditate, meditate…it has so many great benefits.  I love to start my day off with some meditation in a park on my walk to work as well as a mid-afternoon refresher.

Announcement: Evelina Vaisvilaite joins Happywork

We are very pleased to announce that Evelina Vaisvilaite has joined the Happywork team. As an Ambassador member of Happywork, Evelina will be assisting with social media outreach, event planning, and various projects. Her background is in staffing services/talent management and she enjoys being a part of Happywork because she is passionate about employee engagement, development, and fulfillment.

We look forward to seeing how things grow and evolve with Evelina’s addition to the team.  The energy she brings to her interactions is wonderful and contagious so the outcome is sure to be awesome.

Welcome Evelina!


Boost Serotonin to Improve and Regulate Happiness

In a previous post on Healthy Ways To Boost Dopamine for Happiness, it was pointed out that each person experiences happiness differently.  Positive emotional states are brought about by brain chemistry.  When we are happy, it is usually from a mix of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphin.

Each of these chemicals have an important part to play in happiness.  A major regulator of happiness is serotonin. Medical News Today with James McIntosh and Dr Helen Webberley point out that “serotonin is thought to be especially active in constricting smooth muscles, transmitting impulses between nerve cells, regulating cyclic body processes and contributing to wellbeing and happiness.” In other words, serotonin helps  to keep our body running well by stabilizing body functions like mood and appetite.  Serotonin is a main component in some antidepressants and eating disorder medication.

Also, Christopher Bergland  in The Neurochemicals of Happiness calls serotonin “the confidence molecule” and talks about a “higher serotonin and a lack of rejection sensitivity allows people to put themselves in situations that will bolster self-esteem, increase feelings of worthiness.” Bergland goes on to say that as well as being “able to say ‘I did it!’ will produce a feedback loop that will reinforce behaviors that build self esteem and make you less insecure and create an upward spiral of more and more serotonin.”  I am all about upward spirals of feeling good!

Now that you know a lot more about serotonin, how can you get more of it? In Why You Need More Serotonin and How to Get it, Emily Roberts suggests:

  1. Get tested to see if you are low on serotonin
  2. Take care of your gut as 80% or more of serotonin production come from your GI
  3. Get serious about managing your stress
  4. Exercise

So, as a happiness consultant, I recommend to eat healthy with lots of probiotics and go for a walk to allow yourself to feel pride in taking such great care of yourself and managing your stress.  Also, before you go to bed, give yourself an ‘atta-boy/girl’ for cultivating more serotonin for your happiness.  I like to close my day by putting a quick entry into my happywork Evernote journal so it is the last thing on my mind as I drift off to sleep.  Give it a try and let me know how it works.

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Learn more at:

Website: Happyworkteam.com

Email: happyworkteam@gmail.com

Phone: (818) 308-4365

Happywork @ Avvo

One of the supreme reasons I love working at Avvo is that my passion for workplace happiness science is welcomed and encouraged.  I am so very grateful and excited to have kicked off the first team of 25 for a Happywork program at Avvo!  Over the next two months and beyond, we will embark on a bottom-up, individualized program designed to augment our employee engagement initiatives.  We are always striving for more as our engagement is already 2X the benchmark!  I can’t wait to hear the stories and see the advancement as we build our action plans for workplace happiness.

Thank You LWHRA. Sharing workplace happiness science last week was a blast!

Happywork was honored to present our workshop to the Lake Washington HR Association for the August meeting.  We shared how the science of happiness can drive business success.  There was quite a turnout of nearly 100 and we are humbled by the amount of interest and positive comments that have come in from those who attended.

Special thanks to the LWHRA volunteer team – especially Kirby Pratt, Gabrielle Wilkerson and Kim Sklaroff.

If you were not able to make it to this event, it’s OK!  We have monthly Seattle area Meet Ups on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday night each month from 6-7:30. You can get more info at Happywork Meetups.

Also, let us know if you would like us to come to your workplace to give the same presentation at a brown bag lunch for free.

Finally, we can accommodate a virtual web-cam version as well if you are from outside the Seattle area.

The use of this seal confirms that this activity has met HR Certification Institute’s® (HRCI®) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval.

Happy Friday Quote


Happy Friday! We know that gratitude is an important step to take while finding oneshappiness and today we are feeling particularly grateful for you!



Do you practice an Attitude of Gratitude? What are you grateful for today? Let us know in the comments below.


Want to learn more about the relationship between happiness and gratitude?