10 Tips to Help You In Your Pursuit of Happiness
Being happy at work is important but what I really want is to be happy in life! Martin Seligman is the Positive Psychology guru who has written the book Authentic Happiness. He says that happiness is more of a pursuit ala Thomas Jefferson rather than something we can acquire. Makes sense to me. I know that there are things that make me happy in the moment (an ice cream cone or dancing) but that doesn’t mean I remain happy forever. Here are some tips to help you in your pursuit of happiness.
- Happiness is a choice – You are able to take a positive or negative approach to issues. Do you find what is good about something or do you focus on what is bad about it? If you are not sure, start to become aware of your self-talk. I know I tend toward the negative so I make a conscious effort to find the good. Some people naturally see the good but for others of us we first see what’s wrong. You can consciously change that. For those whose work involves problem solving it may be hard to switch back and forth. If you are good at seeing the problem and solving it in your work, it may be hard to turn that off. It is important to your mental health to look for what is good in your non-work life however.
- Be grateful – Find the things for which you are grateful and focus on them. This is something those of us who are busy all the time may fail to do. It is important to stop, appreciate what you have and then to say thank you to the universe and those close to you for all that is good in your life. For me this means being grateful to you my readers, my clients and my colleagues. I don’t say thank you enough. Thank you!
- Avoid negative self talk – Monitor what you say to yourself. Do you tell yourself you always screw up things, you’ll never amount to anything or you are bad at ______. Change your language. Be kind to yourself and forgiving. Avoid using the words “always” or “never” because they have permanence to them that signal you that there is nothing you can do about it. A good book on negative self talk is Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson.
- Enjoy relationships with others – People who have friends and a community to support them feel happier. If necessary build your community or join one. The longer you live the more important having a community becomes. Make sure the community spans many age groups, old and young.) At 103 my mother has very few of her contemporaries left. Her synagogue community gives her the support she needs and it is very important to her. She nurtured it all of her life.
- Know your life purpose and your values – Find ways to use your life purpose and values in your work and in your life. By life purpose I mean the work you were meant to do and by values I mean what is most important to you in life. Using your purpose and values gives meaning to your life and work. Knowing what makes you feel fulfilled is vital to your happiness. Recently a client of mine discovered connection was what made her feel fulfilled. She is getting that connection from a community she joined. If you are not sure about your values and purpose I can help you to uncover them. Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time to talk.
- Find a cause or an interest that engages and excites you – Use that passion in your job or in some kind of volunteer work. My passion is to help people to find the spark within themselves so that they can find their purpose and be happy at work. I do that with the clients I coach and in my volunteer work with SCORE I with the small business owners I counsel. In a small way I am helping to add jobs in the United States and I am adding to the number of people who are happy at work.
- Find your own specific work-life balance – Balance does not necessarily mean half work and half recreation. You need to decide what is right for you. Start by knowing what is most important to you and make room in your day or week for that. How do you insure that you keep your values in focus as you go through your week? There are lots of skills involved in managing that. Having strong boundaries would be one important skill. How do you do it?
- Avoid perfectionism – Perfectionists set themselves up to be disappointed. That disappointment leads to negative self talk. Strive to do your best work and forgive yourself if it is never perfect. Remember that mistakes make you human. I am reading the book Settle for More by Megyn Kelly. She talks about this in the chapter So long Little Miss Perfect. The chapter certainly resonated with me because I wrestle with it all the time. Perfectionism is not pretty to others and is hard to let go of for the perfectionist! Megyn does discuss being really good at work versus being perfect. I’m not advocating sloppy work here nor is she.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously – Laugh at yourself and see the humor in your humanness. This is a good cure for perfectionism if you can do it. Finding humor in life in general makes life more fun and helps alleviate stress.
- Take 30 minutes a day for quiet reflection – Recall a time and place when you were very happy and spend time in that memory. Use this time for quiet meditation. Breath deeply. Today’s life is busy and hectic. Allow yourself to slow down and reflect and appreciate yourself.
Links to other readings on this topic
10 Tips to Help You Recover From a Bad Mood. I wrote this list several years ago. We all get in bad moods occasionally. It’s good to have some ways to put yourself in a good mood. Music and singing always works for me.
Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman is another book on happiness that I found helpful. There is a good assessment in it to learn if you are a natural optimist and then recommendations of what to do if you are not.
If you find happiness a challenge for you and you would like some help implementing any of these suggestions, please call (781-598-0388)or email me (email@example.com. I’d be delighted to help you.