Motivation vs Happiness: Which is more important?


It's one of our big debates in the office… what’s more important: motivation or happiness? Can you be unhappy but motivated? 74% of employees who use Motivii think that you can. Let’s examine each side of the coin.

How can you achieve happiness?

Many organisations want to improve the happiness of their employees. And, as individuals, we all strive for happiness in our own lives too. Wanting to be happy is an essential human experience. But as we all know, it's never simple to achieve. What makes you happy may make another person sad, for instance.

Happiness is also a ‘peak emotion’. You'll only achieve happiness when you've achieved something worthwhile. The harder something is to achieve, the more happy we are once we've achieved it. This happiness paradox means that sometimes happiness only comes after a struggle. So what keeps you going when things are hard? 

Why we talk about motivation instead of happiness

This is where motivation comes in. Motivation acts as the fuel that keeps you going. The thought of being happy or achieving something motivates. Being in an engaging environment motivates. You'll also feel supported if you've got the support of your manager.

Importantly, having the right package at work motivates too. Dan Pink talks about motivation at work as being a combination of employee benefits (pay, package etc..) but also, having a purpose at work, and becoming a master of what you do.

Motivation and happiness are closely linked. However, happiness is a more complex issue. Meanwhile, the system of levers that affects motivation is easier to understand from an evolutionary perspective. It’s simpler for all of us to concentrate on the things that motivate, rather than figure out what makes someone happy in any given moment.

At Motivii we focus on motivation. Because if we can improve our motivation, then we can improve our happiness, engagement, and those other good feelings that you get when you've achieved something.

By Eamon Tuhami, CEO and Founder at Motivii

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