Happiness

When I grow up…

“what do I want to be when I grow up?”

I don’t know about you but I wanted to be one of “Charlie’s Angels” and definitely a part of the Jackson Five.

Obviously, neither of those things happened (…yet). So now we flash forward into being grown ups and for some of us, this question is still left unanswered. But, in my opinion, we’re asking the wrong question. The problem with focussing on what we want to “be” is that it stops us from acknowledging that what we really want is to FEEL a certain way. How will you FEEL when you achieve your goals? Why do you want what you want?

So the real question we should be asking ourselves is, “who do I want to grow into in this lifetime?” The truth is, a quality life is less about our achievements and more about our personal growth as we navigate our road to success.

Ask any successful person about how they felt when they achieved their goals. They will tell you that yes, achieving their success felt great! But they will also likely say, they were just as happy while working towards and striving for their goals. I’ve seen this time and time again with artists, entrepreneurs, and business people. They work hard and enjoy their success, yes. But then, they are soon setting a new goal to challenge themselves once again. Because successful people actually enjoy the process as much as they enjoy the results.

So, what are your goals these days and more importantly, who will you become as you work to achieve them?

Think about a goal you are passionate about…

What would your life look like on the road to that success? Who would you meet and how? Who would you have to seek out and recruit? Who would help you and how would you ask for that help? What would you have to learn? From whom? How would you get paid and who would you have the pleasure of paying, once the money started rolling in? What would you have the pleasure of buying for yourself and others?

What would your breakthroughs say about you?

Do you see a pattern emerging? Your answers to the above questions will steer you more clearly in the direction of how you want to live your life. Armed with this level of clarity, you have a clear roadmap as to how you want to feel on a daily basis. Meaning, you can feel that way NOW rather than waiting until you achieve your goals!

For example, I met a guy in Vancouver who was a ticket agent for Delta airlines. Probably not the most fun job in the world when you think of how many angry travelers you’d have to deal on a daily basis.

On this particular day, I had just taken a seat in the waiting area when he came on the speaker system to say “Hello my waiting passengers! I know you are admiring the beauty of the Vancouver International Airport so I have good news! You get to enjoy another 20 minutes of it! We will now be boarding at 2:45.”

All of us passengers looked at each other and laughed. (How often do you laugh at airports?!?)

Then, when boarding was to begin, he introduced himself as “Greg, your master of ceremonies…and these two ladies (gesturing to his co-workers) are my mistresses of ceremonies. Please have your passport ready when boarding.” Again, more laughter from all of us.

Our master of ceremonies then said “children and passengers needing assistance could board the plane.” At that point, a bunch of first class passengers jumped up and got in the line. He stared at them for a second, then, over the microphone asked, “are you all jumping into line because you behave like children and therefore need assistance?”

We all are laughing at this point. Even the obnoxious first class people laughed and even apologized.

It doesn’t end there! Once we were all on the plane and waiting to push back from the gate…Here comes Greg again over the loudspeaker. This time, he told us a funny rhyme, wished us all a safe journey, and said goodbye. To which we all responded…”Bye Greg!” (Have you ever remembered the name of the ticket agent you passed when boarding a plane?!)

This guy was clearly not waiting to achieve his goals before he started sharing what he was passionate about. Obviously he is a comedian or an actor or a comedy writer…But, he’s not waiting until he sells his script to hear people laugh at his jokes. Nope, he’s turned his day job into yet another area to share his humor. (And, when Delta sent me their survey on my experience, you can imagine who I mentioned as an outstanding employee!)

So, how can you approach your goals with this kind of passion? How can you enjoy the ups and downs along the way?

DO NOT WAIT until you achieve your goals to be who you want to be. Start to view your daily life as an opportunity to be your best self possible…start today…start now.

And if you liked this…forward it, retweet it, repost it…Share it!

How cultivating Happiness leads to Confidence and Success

Shawn Achor of Harvard has spent his life studying happiness and its relevance in corporate America as well as corporations around the world. Countless studies have been done to prove that happy workers not only perform better at their jobs, but actually create more profit for the companies they work for.

But, most of us are not CEO’s of Fortune Five Hundred companies. So how can we use this research in practical ways to improve our own lives? After all, if it works for corporate America, shouldn’t it work for us?

Yes it can! By practicing the same principles they do. According to studies, the minimal amount of happy/confident experiences required to increase the likelihood of success, is 3 new experiences a day. But, these experiences must be specific to our own personal preferences. And these preferences are known as, our ‘signature strengths’.

What does that mean? It means at least 3 times a day, you have to consciously engage in different things that make you feel confident and happy. Some examples: admiring the pretty flowers in someone’s garden, complimenting a co-worker, finding the humor in a situation, being grateful for a good nights sleep, learning something new, reviewing your previous successes… The key is, you have to figure out what makes YOU happy and confident and start looking for opportunities to experience more of those feelings on a daily basis.

So what makes you happy? Humor? Love of learning? Creativity? Gratitude? Curiosity? Sit for a few minutes and remember the times you were genuinely happy. What was going on? What were you doing? Did you find something funny about the situation? Were you engrossed in learning something new? Write down all the activities that contributed to your happiness.

And, when did you feel successful? What were you doing and how did it feel? For example, maybe you got the client because you were super prepared and have a knack for reading the room. Then ‘being prepared’ and ‘great people skills’ should go on your list of signature strengths. (If you want to get scientific about it, go to viasurvey.org and fill out their survey…its fun, fast, and free!)

Some of you still might think that pain and struggle is the only way to success and all this happiness talk is nonsense. Well, just to inspire you even more, here is an interesting experiment done by Margaret Shih at Harvard. She gathered a group of Asian women of the same IQ and administered a math test. But, before the test, she told them that because they were women and generally women are bad at math, she didn’t expect great scores. Not surprisingly, the women scored low. Then, a different test was administered. Only this time she told them that because the were Asian they were expected to do well because Asians are culturally better at math. You guessed it…they scored high!

Another test at Harvard, involving Doctors, proved that Doctors primed with happy feelings before seeing a patient, yielded more accurate diagnosis’ than those Doctors simply going from patient to patient. I don’t know about you, I’d rather have a happy Doctor see me the next time I’m sick!

Science has repeatedly proven that the happier and more confident you feel, the more likely you are to succeed. (and thus Corporate America has jumped on board because success = money!)

So…what if you primed yourself to feel confident before going into your job interview, pitching your project, sitting down to write, or dealing with your children? The key is to remember what makes you happy, and remind yourself of the great skills you already have (rather than what you lack).

So…think back to the times you were most happy. What was going on? What were you doing? What made you feel awesome and confident?

Get your list of 3-5 things that you can do on a daily basis to feel great, and then do them every day. (I have my list posted front and center on my journal so I start every day feeling positive and confident…and what are my signature strengths, you might ask? Gratitude, Spirituality, Humor, Love, and Fairness. So my day starts with a Gratitude list…every day.)

Again, I repeat, practice them DAILY. And more importantly, practice them purposefully and consistently when faced with challenges.

And…share! Pass this on to anyone you know who could use a happiness boost today! And feel free to share your signature strengths with me!

My favorite daily habit to improve our dispositions

We are all born with different personalities, preferences, inclinations and dispositions. There was a vast study done in the 1950’s called the ‘New York Longitudinal Study’ where they studied infants to predict the various temperaments each child would likely exhibit as a toddler and further on in life.

And ask any parent with more than one child, they will tell you that they are all different…same parents, same DNA, different sensibilities.

So what about those of us drawn to the “broodier” side of life? Some people seem to be “hard wired” to see the negative, the mistakes, the worst case scenario. Is that you?

Or maybe you used to be pretty happy in general but life has just served you up platter of poopy life circumstances and you feel bummed out more days than not?

(Let me be clear, I’m talking about general malaise. NOT clinical depression. If you feel clinically depressed or suicidal, seek medical help immediately.)

Well, there is good news for those of you who tend to feel down. You can ‘rewire’ your brain to actively look for things that bring a smile to your face. It just takes daily practice.

– Random Acts of Kindness have been proven to, over time, help elevate people’s moods. That means, just doing something nice for someone else for no good reason, can nudge you out of a slump.

– Physically moving your body in positive ways (dancing, singing, looking up at the sky, etc) has a psychological effect on your moods. So if you are staring at your feet feeling sad, look up! That sends a neuromuscular message to your nervous system to change its focus thus changing your state from bummed, to uplifted.

But, my favorite way to rewire our brains to see the good, is:

– Journaling…in a very specific way

Everyday for the next 2 weeks, sit down and write about something good that happened to you that day. It can’t be the same thing as yesterday! You have to come up with and write extensively about something new that happened to you…every day for at least 2 weeks.

Our brains love repetition. Don’t take my word for it. Notice, do you brush your teeth with the same hand every day? Do you tie your shoelaces the same way every day? Do you drive to work the exact same way every day? Of course you do. Our brains are wired to create energy saving habits (more on that in upcoming newsletters). So, by repeating this action of positive journaling every day, your brain will start to look for more experiences for things to write about. Your brain can’t help it! It’s driven to create habits! And, this habit happens to feel good…so your mind will have no choice but to reinforce this habit daily.

This may sound overly simplistic, until you give it a try. For some of us, at first, finding a good thing to write about might be a challenge. So, start small and easy. Did someone smile at you today? Did your car get you from point A to B without incident? Did you see a funny video on YouTube? You don’t have to come up with monumental things that happened to you. Just write about something that made you smile, or laugh, or feel at peace. Stick with it for at least 2 weeks and then start to notice how much easier it gets to remember the great things that happened every day.

And no need to wait until you’re depressed to start this habit…I think we could ALL benefit from practicing journaling our good experiences every day.

FACT: We all have the capacity to increase the sum joy in the world every minute of every day.

Despite our dispositions, we do have a choice.

If this is something you have struggled with, get in touch. I’ve helped a lot of people break out of negative thought patterns and I am available to work with you if you want help with this.