How to Achieve Happiness as a Grants Professional: Be Healthy

From the ancient Greeks to the present, we have debated the meaning of happiness.  Today, there is a renewed interest in this subject from economists, political scientists, and psychologists.  What makes people happy, and how might grants professionals achieve a feeling of well-being inside and outside the workplace?

If social capital and not income or commodities is the most important source of happiness and life satisfaction for grants professionals, then I think we need to re-examine the way we work and live.

About 70 percent of our feelings of hap­piness are based on the quality of our social relationships with families, friends, neigh­bors, and co-workers. This is the single most important conclusion about the connection between social relationships and a sense of satisfaction and well-being.

The people who rate themselves the happiest believe in sharing, belong­ing, and giving of themselves to oth­ers. Be kind and gener­ous at work, and you will increase your social capital.

There are many aspects of our health that we cannot control, but personal behavior ac­counts for about 70 percent of it. There are obvious ways we can all improve our health.

First, build your social capital. People with strong social connections are health­ier than socially isolated individuals.

Second, eating prop­erly and exercising regu­larly fosters happiness by increasing our energy, our sense of satisfaction, and our opportunities for enjoyment. As Dr. George Sheehan, the guru of running, once said, “Fitness has to be fun. If it is not play, there will be no fitness. Play, you see, is the process. Fitness is mere­ly the product.” He concluded that running would not add years to your life but life to your years. Adults need to engage in playful, energetic activities to keep healthy.

Nonprofit organizations and proposal managers can take concrete steps to encourage good health. The most basic step would be to lock the proposal room for one hour in the middle of the day and strong­ly encourage everyone to leave the building for a brisk walk, regardless of the season. Too many grants professionals spend their days and evenings inertly occupying a chair in front of a computer munching on unhealthy foods and consuming too much caffeine and sugar.

If you are a proposal manager, set a good example by providing your team with a map of the walking paths around the office and taking frequent walks yourself.  Or better yet, go a  nearby gym for lunch and take your colleagues with you.

The other obvious step a proposal manager can take to improve team health is to discourage nighttime and weekend work on grants.  There may be times when long hours in the office are necessary, but frequent long hours will lead to poor individual health, among other negative results.

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