Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


If you had to pick the most difficult concept out of life, liberty and happiness, I fancy you'd choose the last one.

We experience the darned thing so rarely.

Then, no sooner has it turned up than it's gone, without so much as a sayonara.

Psychologists have tried to help us in this maddening quest.

Scientists have tried to secure their own prescriptions for your bliss.

A new piece of research might, however, point toward a little sense.

Scientists at Nottingham Trent University in the UK say that happiness stems from identification with a group.

That's not the same as belonging to a group.

It's about feeling that you belong.

The group could be your local community or your family. It could be your church or even the National Association For One-Eyed Rodent-Spotters.

These scientists examined how connected 4,000 participants truly felt to certain groups. (No, they didn't talk to members of Congress, which is a pity.)

They then looked at how this seemed to affect their happiness levels.

They went further.

For every additional group to which someone felt connected, their happiness level rose by 9 percent.

The researchers theorize that true belonging to a group offers two deeply important aspects: a sense of purpose and the idea that, if things go wrong, there will be support from the group.

Now that's optimism for you.

The researchers intimated that the demands of individualistic capitalism work against our need to be happy.

"Our work taps into knowledge that is deep within all of us," said Dr Juliet Wakefield, "but which we often forget due to the fast-paced and achievement-focused nature of modern life -- that to be your best self, you tend to require the support of others."

Yes, you really didn't build that alone.

And you really, really don't achieve happiness all on your little lonesome. Not even at the Hustler Club.

The researchers' work might lead to an understanding of why some employees are unhappy at work, whereas others thrive.

"It's important to note that identifying with a group isn't the same as membership, though," said Wakefield. "You can be a member of a group with which you feel no connection at all. It's that subjective sense of belonging that's crucial for happiness."

We all want to be part of something bigger. We all want to feel that sense of a spiritual home.

Perhaps one of the harder things, though, is actually finding those groups to whom we can feel happy belonging.

Corporations love to tell us that they're one big happy family, but we know that too many of them are one big, money-making machine designed to make the bosses very rich indeed.

The whole idea of feeling you belong has its twisted elements too.

Too many people declare what they want from a group before they even reveal what they can give to it.

Shouldn't that be the subject of a little research?