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Why Be Happy?

Librada Estrada

laughter-happyFBWe’re really excited about International Happiness Day since we're at the midpoint of our own happiness challenge. Ana and I have been tweeting about happiness at #100STQDAYS. When we first brainstormed the idea, I wasn't sure what to expect or what I would tweet about. Realizing that we were over thinking we agreed that each of us would define happiness for herself. That was the best thing we could have done.

During the first half of the challenge I realized that I took happiness for granted and I still do. The difference now is that I course correct much sooner than before. Despite the fact that I have fallen behind on tweeting daily, I have been able to identify a moment that brings me joy every day. I kept thinking that I would feel better, smile more and get some endorphins running through my brain and… I am actually experiencing more of these things. What I didn't expect is that I am recognizing the benefits beyond just increasing positivity in my own life.  It's reminding me of some leadership lessons that have been pushed to the back of my mind.

It helps when you are mindful. Have you ever gone through an entire day thinking that nothing was right or did not go well? I have. Since I started the happiness challenge, I have found that making the time to reflect on the day and look for joy, I am able to identify a nugget or two that helps me realize I HAVE had happy moments that I am not always present to. Once I realize it, I feel grateful for these moments. And the more I am grateful, the happier I feel. It’s that simple. The more happiness you generate the more bliss you feel – it’s addictive! This has caused me to pause and consider what else might I need to be more mindful of and how do I show up. As a leader, what do you need to be paying attention to that you are currently ignoring?

Happiness is contagious. If you focus on everything that did not go well, you find evidence to support that idea and you sound and act negative. People stay away. Similarly, when you have positive interactions with colleagues, they are more likely to collaborate with you or help you and vice versa. This makes for a more pleasant work environment, which potentially leads to happier and more productive staff. How do others see you? What kind of environment do you create at home or work?

Each of us has a different idea of happiness and expresses it differently. If you look at what Ana and I have been posting, it is very individual. That is the beauty of this project. It is giving us a chance to get to know each other more and highlights that although we are working on the same thing, our experience is different and just right for each of us. You don’t have to feel happy at the same time as everyone else, have the same definition or express it the same way. It’s a great reminder that we need to be respectful of individual preferences and consider alternatives. How open are you to different perspectives or ways of doing things?

Si tú quieres, you can choose to be happy. I now wake up with happiness on the brain. I try to stay positive and look for the joy in small things. Happiness is habit forming. If I haven’t found something by evening time, I make it a point to bring in some laughter, relief, or pleasure. What do you choose to focus on about yourself, your team, or your boss?

Experiencing joy is a journey. We have come to believe that certain emotions are good and others are bad. The reality is that emotions are data points. They inform us of what we like or don’t like and what to embrace or reject. Being happy is great and it’s not the only way to be. I still have plenty of moments when I am impatient, frustrated or angry. Being able to more quickly recognize when I am not feeling upbeat helps me identify the root cause sooner rather than later and determine what I want to do about it. Sometimes we have to experience the flip side, sadness or grief, to appreciate it even more. What do you avoid because you fear the discomfort?

Si tú quieres, here are some tips to become more aware of happiness:

  • Take a picture or record the event in some form.
  • Be present in the moment.
  • Reflect on your day and identify one thing that made you happy each day-in a journal, calendar, diary or picture.
  • Connect with a person that makes you happy.
  • Try something new or a different version of what you already enjoy.
  • Focus on YOUR definition of happiness and what feels right for you and forget what others think.
  • Contribute to someone’s happiness-give them a boost, smile, a simple thank you.
  • Start small—hold yourself accountable to do/experience/identify one thing daily that brings you joy.

Your turn: For International Happiness Day, the world is focusing on music. What does happiness sound like to you? Tell us on Twitter at #HappySoundsLike

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