The Future? via TechCrunch

With the fourth industrial revolution building, we humans are on the brink of a whole new world. Technological breakthroughs are coming faster and faster now, and almost no industry will be left unchanged. Artificial intelligence is already becoming the norm. Virtual assistants and self-driving cars are more common, and we are becoming more dependent. Now is the time to ask ourselves how to stay happy in the digital age…before we run out of time. 

Current Trends

Depression and suicide are higher than ever before in recorded history. According to WHO, more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. They also predict that by 2030, depression will be most suffered from illness in the world. Unfortunately, workplaces tend to encourage faking positive emotions. This usually only serves to keep the workers quite, and actually makes people more ill. A study out of Germany found forced happiness at work leads to heart problems and depression.  

What is Happiness?

Misunderstanding the meaning of happiness seems to be one reason businesses are missing the mark on workplace bliss. When humans think of happiness, we think of feeling good. Happiness, to us, usually means a lack of negative emotions. However, that kind of happiness is a light, fleeting, and ultimately fickle.

Besides cultivating positivity, there are two other extremely important factors that contribute to full happiness. The first is a sense of purpose. Employees need meaningful engagement with their work to feel fulfilled. The second factor is resilience. While it is true negative emotions will come and go, resilience is the ability to deal with them in a healthy way.  

Emotional Intelligence, AI, and the Workplace

Developments in artificial intelligence are occurring by the day, if not the hour, minute, and second! So far, the machines have us beat physically and cognitively. That means in the near future brain and brawn will not be enough to land a job. In preparation, we need to focus on the one area humans still have domain over: emotion. Soon, those with high emotional intelligence (EQ) will be highly sought after.

In fact, studies have shown a positive relationship between happiness and Emotional Intelligence. EQ is made up of self and social awareness, and self and relationship management. Unfortunately, many education systems and job trainings do not teach how to develop this increasingly important form of intelligence. Fortunately, anyone can learn.

Emotional Intelligence Naz smyth

Human Giving AI Some Love via REUTERS/Nigel Treblin

Developing EQ

A few years ago, emotional intelligence expert Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi created an online class to develop EQ. Six thousand students from 150 different countries enrolled. They practiced two exercises each day to re-train their brains.

The first was practicing gratitude by naming 5 different things they were thankful for. Developing a gratitude practice helps us overcome our brain’s natural tendency toward negativity. Second, they shared their emotions online and with others in the program.

This gets the brain familiar with emotions, and leads to greater awareness and more thoughtful action. For more information, check out the course.

Preparing for the Workplace of the Future

The World Economic Forum is already sounding the alarm on the importance of preparing humans for advancing artificial intelligence. In order to do so, we must be willing to develop our emotional intelligence. Yes, self-improvement is difficult.

However, the reward is greater happiness, less depression, and a place in an increasingly automated workplace.