I’ve had an epiphany the last few months – I can choose to be happy. My job will not make me happy, nor will more money. What I have to share makes me happy. My family and friends makes me happy. So how can you find happiness?
We are hearing a lot about being happy these days. Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” is played almost every minute somewhere. It’s been stuck in my head since I heard it earlier this year on the Academy Awards. When he talked to Oprah last month he talked about how hard it was to write that song. “My best songs come when I run out of ideas”. That doesn’t sound like a happy way to write a song. Yet, you can’t help but smile (unless you’ve heard it 30 times in a row) when you hear it. You can choose to be happy.
We want to be happy
A while back, I wrote a blog titled, Joy of the Job, where I insisted that women really want to enjoy the job they do. We are slightly more engaged with our work than our male counterparts and we get more satisfaction from a job well done. I’ve recently seen three women leave relatively long tenured jobs because they just were not happy. “This used to be a great place to work, but then (fill in the name of a new boss) came and things changed. I don’t like being here anymore.” This woman wanted to be happy and the change of focus and processes in her work environment made her angry. She undermined the new boss, she argued with the new boss, she received poor performance reviews from the new boss, and when that happened, she pouted and stopped participating. Her focus shifted from being happy to anger.
Another co-worker I’ve observed had a similar experience – new boss, change in processes and new direction and goals. Everyone around her complained and the changes were hard to manage. At first she joined in, but then she made the decision to change her mind. “I can be miserable wondering why we have to change and do things HER way, or I can say, why not do it her way and be much happier.”
How can you be happier?
Shawn Achor, the Professor of Happiness at Harvard University, has written a book, Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change. He has put together five skills that he believes – if practiced – can lead to a more happy life.
- Reality Architecture: Choosing the Most Valuable Reality (almost every situation has more than one way to look at it.)
- Mental Cartography: Mapping Your Success Route (knowing where you want to go and why, and being able to change it if necessary is critical to steer us toward accomplishing our goals.)
- The X-Spot: Finding Success Accelerants – (the increased energy we need to finish the goal, to make it happen.)
- Noise Canceling: Boosting Your Positive Signal by Eliminating the Negative Noise – (recognizing that if there is a negative, there is probably a positive to the same situation, you just have to be able to see it.)
- Positive Inception: Transferring Your Positive Reality to Others – (giving positive “Happy” with others makes you feel even happier!)
Archer doesn’t just believe these skills can help you (and those around you) be happy, he has scientific research behind his techniques. If you practice, you will be happier.
Because I’m Happy
Because I’m happy, with my work, my family, my life, I believe all of my outcomes can change. It’s not that bad things don’t happen. I still have unreasonable work demands and timelines, family members who do not always live up to my expectations and friends who disappoint me, but I know I can be happy – if not now, some time soon. I just need to practice and be grateful that I have a job, I have a loving family, and I have supportive friends.
My work with Ask Ajna is gratifying and meaningful. When Jae Lynn and I started Ask Ajna, we knew we wanted to build a community to help women speak with their authentic voice. Every time women reach out to be part of the community, we know we are achieving our goal. Because I’m happy, I am enjoying every minute of the experience.