Are you happy?  Think about it.  No, not like that.  Think. About. It.

Happiness is one of those things that affects everything about our lives.  It dictates how you feel when you wake up in the morning, ready to face the day.  It influences the way you interact with people, and how others perceive you.  It determines your mood, your interactions, your memories, and bottom line, your life.

Just a few weeks ago, digital-telepathy brought in the team from Delivering Happiness to conduct a workshop on “Happy Me at Work”.  Although I had done some research while organizing the workshop, I was completely blown away as I was participating, and I had no idea the way it would impact me on a personal level!  As some of you may know, I am the Manager of Company Culture at digital-telepathy, so it’s pretty much a give-in that I’m supposed to be happy.  If I’m not happy, how am I supposed to ensure that everyone else on my team is happy?

Delivering Happiness 

“Get the culture right and everything else from great customer service to profitability will fall into place” -Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness was actually started because of Zappos’ great culture and the success they’ve experienced as a result of putting their culture and team first.  As some of you may know, Tony Hsieh started Zappos on the foundation of wonderful culture and wanting his employees to have a fun place to work.  Since then, Zappos is continually rated one of the best places to work in the world.  They even have a Zappos Culture Book, which is comprised of hundreds of pages of pictures and stories from the team that boast Zappos’ amazing culture.

When digital-telepathy heard about the Zappos story and what they were doing with Delivering Happiness, we actually reached out to them to trade a website design for them to train DT on the ways of Zappos and Delivering Happiness!

Delivering Happiness uses the science of happiness and the experience of Zappos to put happiness to work to create more engaged, productive, and profitable workplaces.  In short, they make happy work.  Through coaching & consulting, workshops, and surveys, they help companies create a roadmap to start on their journey to happiness at work.

The Workshop

We started out the workshop by reviewing the five principles to becoming an inspired leader, which is the foundation for a culture of happiness.

The five principles are:

  1. The Power to Choose
  2. The Power of Thoughts and Emotions
  3. The Wonder of Uncertainty
  4. Personal Higher Purpose
  5. Pay it Forward.

We identified personal goals for objectives we wanted to accomplish during the workshop, and together we set out on a very eye-opening learning experience.

1. The Power to Choose

As humans, we have been blessed (or some may say, cursed), with the power of choice.  We possess the power to choose to look at our glass as half full versus half empty.  We can select to always look on the positive instead of focusing on the negative.  And with every roadblock that we face, we are faced with the choice to play victim or victor.

Although the above video is kind of hilarious because it makes the point so dramatically, it is eye opening, because we see that kind of behavior all around us each and every day.  How many people do we know that say they’re going to do something, yet give up when they face their first roadblock?  I’ve talked to dozens of unhappy people, and when I asked why they don’t make a change, they’re reliant on other factors that they think will bring them happiness.  “Things will get better when they hire a new manager here.” or “I’ll give it one more year and see if anything improves.” are typical responses to questions as to why they aren’t making a change themselves.

You alone are in control of your happiness.  If you aren’t 100% happy, you need to make the decision to change it and then perform the resulting and necessary actions.  For John and I, a lot of our unhappiness while in Buffalo was attributed to the jobs that we had.  So you know what we did?  We quit!  I know this may not seem feasible to you at this very moment in time (I know how tough the job market is), but you can still make minor changes each day to improve your happiness – start by applying to one other job per day/week, brighten up your corporate cube with some vibrant colors and personal flair, or organize a social gathering for your coworkers.  All of these ideas can increase your happiness, and although you’re still at the job that you may hate, you’ll have other driving factors to keep your happiness levels up.

“Unhappiness is not dictated by a situation, but your thoughts around the situation.  The situation contains facts, and you contain your thoughts about it.  It’s easy to make up stories and take the role of victim, but this is limiting.  Staying with the facts is key to taking charge of the situation and becoming the victor.”  – Happy ME Playbook

An example of the above quote would be a thought such as “My life is falling apart”.  It is a story that your mind has created, which limits you and keeps you from taking action to fix your problems.  By looking at the same situation from the factual point of view, “I don’t have enough money to make my rent this month,” you can begin to determine the actions needed to improve your situation.  For this particular example, that may be calling a friend to borrow some money, trying to get a side job for extra funds, or even cutting out costs in another area of your budget to make your rent payment, but the main difference is the thought process.  Can you tell the productive difference between the two statements of “My life is falling apart,” and “I don’t have enough money to pay my rent this month”?  It’s important to recognize that our minds almost always jump to the dramatic, non-factual representation of the situation, but if we reframe our thought process into something more factual, it’s usually quite easy to identify the steps that you’ll have to take to improve the situation.

Values

It was at this point of the workshop that we did a personal values identification exercise.  This was one of the most eye-opening parts of my day, and the whole exercise really hit home and made me realize how out-of-touch I was with what I thought my values were!

We were each provided a list of 30+ values, such as: Achievement, Cheerful, Freedom, Family Life, and given the assignment of marking each word as “Not Important”, “Neutral”, “Important”, or “Very Important”.  We ranked each word on the basis of whether or not we thought it was a personal value for ourselves.  When finished with the exercise, you were asked to list your top ten values; starting with which values you thought were the most important to you.

My list consisted of (in order of importance):

  1. Ambitious
  2. Courageous
  3. Discipline
  4. Independent
  5. Pleasure
  6. Responsible
  7. Self-Respect
  8. Security
  9. Happiness
  10. Cheerful

Then, we had to compare each value to another, and mark down which we thought was the most important.  For example, I compared ambitious to courageous and thought that ambitious was most important.  Then, I compared ambitious and discipline, and determined that I thought discipline was most important.  You go through the list completely, down to comparing every last value, and then count up how many times you chose each particular value over another.

After completing the whole exercise, I realized that my number one value was “Happiness”, while close second was “Cheerful”, which I had ranked as #9 and #10!  I had identified so many of my other values as being more important to me than these two, but when I was forced to choose what I thought was most important (by comparing value to value), Happiness and Cheerful were my two most important!

I thought my other values would have been much higher in personal value, however, I had a shocking realization that all my other values are ways that I work towards happiness.  Yes, I am ambitious in achieving my goals, but in my mind, if I achieve my goals, I’d be happier.  Yes, I am courageous, and thought this was an important value because it helps me to be fearless when tackling my goals, but once again, I had the mindset that if I achieved my goals, I’d be more happy.  What was the most eye opening experience of the day for me, was the fact that my most important values are happiness and cheerfulness, yet I spend no time on these values on a daily basis.  I was under the impression that by achieving all my other values (discipline, responsibility, self-respect, etc), I would in turn become happier, but the fact is that I spend no time on my happiness each and every day.  My new resolve is to find enjoyment in the everyday, identify little things that bring me joy and happiness, and really make an effort to “stop and smell the roses”.

“Where your attention goes, your energy flows, and life grows.” –Winnie the Pooh

2. The Power of Your Thoughts and Emotions

In this portion of the workshop, we learned the power of our thoughts and emotions and how they affect our everyday decisions.  Similar to what I was talking about earlier, focusing on facts when faced with dilemmas, at the same time, it’s important to always look at situations in a positive light versus the negative.

The thoughts and emotions we project, in turn attract certain things to our lives.  If we are projecting positive thoughts and feelings instead of negative ones, positive energy is going to return to you.  If you think about things in a negative light, of course each little speed bump you hit along your journey is going to seem like the worst thing ever.

It’s basically the basis of looking at your glass half full instead of looking at it half empty.  A “half-full” positive focus would emphasise “what you want” versus a “half-empty” negative focus of “what you feel is missing”.  Similarly, you can look at abundance verses the lack of, health versus illness, what you know versus what you doubt, and the list goes on and on.  It’s a simple act called “reframing”, and a new habit I’ve made for myself through learning about it.

Simply put, reframing is the act of identifying a negative thought or emotion, and changing it so that it reflects in a positive light.  In turn, by transforming your emotion from negative to positive, you’ve likely increased your happiness.

Recently, I’ve been really frustrated that my stomach pain has been worsening and contributing to my stress and unhappiness.  During the workshop reframing exercise, I changed my old belief of “my stomach pain is causing me stress and unhappiness,” to “I’m happy to learn myself more to see why my stomach has been hurting.”  The original sentence that I had written down just pages earlier, had been changed to “I’m happy to learn myself more and get to the bottom of why my stomach has been hurting so I can identify the problem, fix it, and make it better!”  The beauty of reframing statements is something I’ve been practicing since the workshop, and it’s a habit I plan to continue!

3. The Wonder of Uncertainty

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow.  If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”  – Gail Sheehy

Growth is vital to human nature, because it brings us fulfillment, but what a lot of people struggle with is the aspect of change.  It requires getting out of your comfort zone and thinking outside the box.  This is where many people falter, because the mere thought of modifications to what we’re used to creates a scary feeling of uncertainty, which produces anxiety.

The Delivering Happiness Team did a really awesome job of illustrating this concept to the team.  They had us all line up, walk one-by-one through a series of obstacles, and at the end of the obstacle course, grab a post-it off the wall.  Super easy-peasy, right?  We were all like, “This is stupid, that was soooo easy.”  However, the next part of the exercise wasn’t as simple – we had to do the same thing, but with our eyes closed as they moved the obstacles around.  Although the second time was harder, when we were able to make our way through the obstacles with our eyes closed, getting to that post-it at the end, seemed like SUCH an achievement!

Although you may hit roadblocks along the way of your journey, think of how much more rewarding your end goal will be once you’ve gotten through them all!  Each time you face a challenge, you are forced to adapt your original course of action.  You know what that means?  You’re learning and growing each step of the way!

4. Personal Higher Purpose

The next exercise we worked on was a guide to help us identify our higher purpose.  Each individual’s higher purpose is what drives them and creates meaning in the mundaneness of our every day.  It’s a driving factor that will keep our happiness levels up, even if the small task at hand is something we dislike doing.  We need to keep our higher purpose in mind when creating goals for ourselves, working towards challenges, and even facing our day-to-day at work.

“To find your own way is to follow your own bliss.  This involves analysis, watching yourself and seeing where the real deep bliss is – not the quick little excitement, but the real deep, life filling bliss.” – Joseph Campbell

For myself, I identified my higher purpose as “I live to serve, it makes me happy to see and make others happy.”  If you think about how powerful this statement is, and how it permeates into everything I do, what an amazing driving force to have behind me!  I can think about this when faced with something I don’t like to do at work, such as taking out the garbage.  Keeping our office at digital-telepathy clean isn’t exactly what I’d like to spend my time doing, but if I think about my higher purpose of living to serve and seeing others happy, I’m actually fulfilling that purpose, and in turn, sustaining and increasing my happiness, even while doing mundane tasks!

If you work for an amazing company like I do, your workplace may even want to align personal goals or initiatives with your current responsibilities, so you are more in-tune with your higher purpose on a daily basis.  Right now, I’m working with my manager to hire a full-time Recruiter/HR representative, to lessen the load of my hiring work, so I can focus more on crafting meaningful experiences for the team, which in turn, nourishes my higher power.  I can’t wait for that to happen, and I feel like the prospect is already driving me!

5. Pay it Forward

Expressing gratitude and thanking those around you has a strong impact on happiness not only at work, but also in our every day lives.  Gratitude, either given or received, builds trust, loyalty, compassion, good will, and self-esteem.  It can escalate levels of happiness and cheerfulness, but also increase personal attributes like confidence and optimism.  There’s nothing better than being appreciated after you’ve put a lot of sweat, blood, and tears into something.

Also, ensure that you’re repaying the favor to others – they don’t even necessarily need to help you, but if you see them working their ass off for something, thank them for all of that energy they’re putting into it!  Gratitude is so good for you, it can even improve your health by lowering stress, cholesterol, and loneliness!

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We closed our workshop with one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been able to witness in a workplace setting.  I’m not even joking when I say I was so moved I cried.  We all sat in a circle, taking turns having one person sit in the middle.  When a new person would move to the seat in the middle, two people from the circle volunteered to say something they appreciated about that person.  The words of encouragement and appreciation that my teammates had for each other, and for me, were so meaningful and genuine.  I felt so blessed just to be a part of such an amazing team that sincerely appreciates and wants the best for each other.

The appreciation session truly gave me new meaning and happiness, and reminded me of why I love doing what I do – it’s for all the people that I work with.  Although the going gets tough at times, and yea, sometimes I’m overwhelmed and stressed, I’m grateful to have the gratitude session to look back on to remind myself why – because I truly love each and every member of my team.

In Conclusion

Happiness is so important – it can help you achieve your goals, make more money, nourish your relationships, and increase your productivity, not only at work, but at home, too.  I hope these five tips that I learned during our workshop help to give you guidance in finding increased happiness in your own lives!

Oftentimes, we find ourselves having a hard time being genuinely happy, because there are things in life that we don’t like – mostly outward factors that seem out of our control.  Whether they be hardships, your job, or arguments with your significant other, it’s important to focus on the positives instead of the negatives to ensure happiness.

Keep in mind the beauty and simplicity of some of the tips I’ve shared with you today – value identification, reframing, embracing uncertainty, identifying your higher purpose and the power of gratitude.  If you are in a workplace that would be open to conducting the Delivering Happiness workshop, I’d highly recommend proposing the idea to your manager – it was an amazing experience and one I’m excited to continue with them when they return to digital-telepathy in April!

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I found this infographic on Mashable a couple weeks back, and thought it applied to this post in particular.  I know that at times, our happiness solutions aren’t as simple as this, but it’s a good reminder that we always have the power to make the changes to become happier.  We just need to remember that we have a responsibility to ourselves to make those changes so we can be the happiest person we were meant to be!

What are some ways that you keep yourselves happy on a daily basis?  Do you currently use any of the tips or tricks I shared above?  What was the most compelling thing you learned while reading this post?

 

(Huge shout out to Jamie Hamel-Smith for the use of his gorgeous pictures that he took during the workshop!)

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