Happiness entails focused work!
So does success.
According to Marc Chernoff, happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design into the present.
Happy people do a lot of things. They spend time expressing gratitude, cultivating optimism, practicing kindness, nurturing loving relationships, committing to meaningful goals, savoring life’s little pleasures, and so on and so forth.
But they NEVER do 6 things as revealed in the second half of this post.
What kinds of actions we can take to increase our own happiness?
Mark and Angel Hack Life, discuss 12 great tips from positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky.
Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives. (Check out her book The How of Happiness.)
Click here to see all 12; reading them will reinforce the idea that happiness can be cultivated through effort, and though the journey can be difficult, the rewards are huge.
Marc Chernoff has researched the 12 things happy people do differently that the rest of us can easily emulate.
- They create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Successful people are objective. They have realistic targets in mind. They know what they are looking for and why they are fighting for it. Successful people create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Let’s briefly review each:
- Specific – A specific goal has a far greater chance of being accomplished because it has defined parameters and constraints.
- Measurable – There must be a logical system for measuring the progress of a goal. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued efforts required to reach your goal.
- Attainable – To be attainable, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. In other words, the goal must be realistic.
- Relevant – Relevance stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter.
- Timely – A goal must be grounded within a time frame, giving the goal a target date.
- They take decisive and immediate action.
There’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action. It’s as simple as that.
Success hinges on the simple act of making a decision to live – to absorb yourself in the process of going after your dreams and goals. So make that decision. And take action. For some practical guidance on taking action I highly recommend Getting Things Done.
- They focus on being productive, not being busy.
In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris says, “Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is often a form of mental laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” This is Ferris’ way of saying “work smarter, not harder,” which happens to be one of the most prevalent modern day personal development clichés. But like most clichés, there’s a great deal of truth to it, and few people actually adhere to it.
Slow down. Breathe. Review your commitments and goals. Put first things first. Do one thing at a time. Start now. Take a short break in two hours. Repeat.
And always remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.
- They make logical, informed decisions.
Sometimes we do things that are permanently foolish simply because we are temporarily upset or excited.
Decisions driven by heavy emotion typically contain minimal amounts of conscious thought, and are primarily based on momentary feelings instead of mindful awareness.
Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence. Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.
- They avoid the trap of trying to make things perfect.
Perfectionists have a hard time starting things and an even harder time finishing them, always.
Remember, the real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time. Only by wading through years of practice and imperfection can we begin to achieve momentary glimpses of the perfection. So make a decision. Take action, learn from the outcome, and repeat this method over and over again in all walks of life. Also, check out Too Perfect. It’s an excellent read on conquering perfectionism.
- They work outside of their comfort zone.
The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.
Significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and success will come and go throughout your lifetime. If you are looking to make positive changes and new breakthroughs in your life, you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.
- They keep things simple.
Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
If you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option. Choose something that you think will work and give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, learn what you can from the experience, choose something else and keep pressing forward.
- They focus on making small, continuous improvements.
Henry Ford once said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small pieces.”
Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they arise. As your strength grows, you can take on bigger challenges.
- They measure and track their progress.
Successful people are not only working in their job/business, they are also working on it. They step back and assess their progress regularly. They track themselves against their goals and clearly know what needs to be done to excel and accelerate.
- They maintain a positive outlook as they learn from their mistakes.
Successful people concentrate on the positives – they look for the silver lining in every situation. They know that it is their positivity that will take them to greatness. If you want to be successful, you need to have a positive outlook toward life. Life will test you again and again. But the only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
- They spend time with the right people.
Successful people associate with people who are likeminded, focused, and supportive. They socialize with people who create energy when they enter the room versus those who create energy when they leave. They reach out to connected, influential individuals who are right for their dreams and goals.
You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you hang with the wrong people, they will negatively affect you. But if you hang with the right people, you will become far more capable and successful than you ever could have been alone. Find your tribe and work together to make a difference in all of your lives. Tribes by Seth Godin is a great read on this topic.
- They maintain balance in their life.
While drive and focus are important, if you’re going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life. Completely neglecting one dimension for another only leads to long-term frustration and stress. For some practical guidance on balancing your life, Marc Chernoff recommends Zen and the Art of Happiness.
Cutting-edge science and spirituality tell us that what we believe, think, and feel actually determine the makeup of our body at the cellular level. In Zen and the Art of Happiness, you will learn how to think and feel so that what you think and feel creates happiness and vibrancy in your life rather than gloominess or depression.
You’ll learn how to adapt to life’s inevitable changes, how to deal with stress in a healthy way, and how to nurture a mindful happiness in your daily life. Most importantly, the gentle wisdom of Zen and the Art of Happiness will show you how to invite magnificent experiences into your life and create a personal philosophy that will sustain you through anything. A timeless work about the art of happiness, the way of happiness, the inner game of happiness. This popular work has been published in more than 20 countries around the world.
Quentin Fottrell, a MarketWatch news editor asked some experts in happiness and workplace trends about some of the habits that make happy workers:
Walk out that door at five o’clock sharp
Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project,” spent a year trying out studies and philosophy about what makes people happy. When it comes to work, she has one takeaway: Establish a quitting time like Pavlov’s dog (or high-school students) and stick with it.
“We used to work from nine to five and for a lot of people now that’s not the case,” Rubin says. “You could end up working all the time with no relaxation and no feeling of being off-duty. Of course, doctors on call can’t say, “Nobody interrupt me.” But after a certain time of day, Rubin doesn’t check email or do any social networking.
Help negative and problematic colleagues
People who do nice things for their colleagues don’t only help their co-workers, they also end up feeling much better about their workplace and themselves, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside. A research paper by Joseph Andrew Chanellor, doctor of philosophy at University of California, Riverside analyzed workers and found that those who offered help benefited even more than those who received help.
“Givers got happier,” Lyubomirsky says. “The receivers felt better, but not as much. But everyone around them started to do more positive things for each other.”
Keep your desk clear of empty coffee cups
Once upon a time, messy desks represented a busy bee. But studies show that chronic procrastinators show signs of stress and guilt, and have more mood swings.
Most people feel better when they observe habits like staying on top of their filing, emails and even throwing away old soda cans and paper cups, Rubin says. “That little bit of practice imposing order is surprisingly energizing and freeing,” she says. “They’re not big tasks on their own. But when they build up, they can be overwhelming.” If you can do something in one minute now, do it, she says. When Rubin cleans her desk, she says, “I come back to the morning and only then realize how irritating it was to delve through all the detritus.” The impact can be dramatic, Rubin says. “Somebody once told me, ‘Now I’ve cleaned out my fridge, I can finally switch careers.’”
Make a gratitude list by the water cooler
Employees who regularly recounted three positive events at work over a six-week period and shared them with colleagues made people happier than those who merely listed work tasks, according to a study of Japanese workers and published in the peer-reviewed “Journal of Happiness Studies.” The study — by Chancellor, Lyubomirsky and Kristin Layous (also from the University of California, Riverside) — also found that those who recorded their positive activities engaged in less social interaction and left work earlier.
“Be grateful for what you have,” Lyubomirsky says. But that’s not enough. Exercise your gratitude like a muscle by making lists and sharing them. “You have to put an effort into that,” she adds.
Shake your job up, even if you like it
There is a honeymoon effect when people get their dream job, but when job satisfaction peaks it will steadily decrease. That’s the conclusion of a study of 132 newcomers to a job — “Changes in Newcomer Job Satisfaction Over Time: Examining the Pattern of Honeymoons and Hangovers” — published in the “Journal of Applied Psychology,” the official publication of the American Psychological Association. There are “risky periods” of time when employees are likely to experience declining job attitudes and may withdraw or seek another job, it found.
“People get used to the new level of responsibility and money, and they just want more,” says Lyubomirsky, who is the author of “The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does.”
Marc Chernoff also identifies 6 Things Happy People Never Do.
- Mind other people’s business.
YOU are walking your own path. So stop the comparisons! Ignore the distractions. Listen to your own inner voice. Mind your own business. Don’t be scared to walk alone, and don’t be scared to enjoy it. Keep doing what you know in your heart is right, for YOU. Because when you are focused on meaningful work and at peace within yourself, almost nothing can shake you. (See “Passion and Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Seek validation of self-worth from others.
When you are content to simply be yourself, without comparing and competing to impress others, everyone worthwhile will respect you. And even more importantly, you will respect yourself. So forget what they think and say about you. Focus on how you feel about yourself, and keep walking the path that feels best under your feet.
Those who accept you are your friends. Those who don’t are your teachers. If someone calls you something and it’s true, it’s not your problem because it’s true. If someone calls you something and it’s not true, it’s not your problem because it’s not true. Either way, whatever they call you is not your problem. What other people call you is their problem…
What you call yourself, and who you decide to become, is your problem.
- Rely on other people and external events for happiness.
Unhappiness lies in that gap between what we have now and what we think we need. But the truth is, we don’t need to acquire anything more to be content with what we already have. If you’re unhappy now, it’s not someone else’s fault. Take full responsibility for your own unhappiness, and you will instantly gain the ability to be happier. Stop seeking in vain to arrange conditions that will make you happy. Simply choose to appreciate the greatness that is yours in this moment, and the right conditions will start to line up around the contentment you seek.
The greater part of your happiness or unhappiness depends upon your outlook, and not upon our situation. Even if things aren’t perfect right now, think of all the beauty still left around you. A good reason to smile is always one thought away; choose to tap into it any time you like. (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
- Hold on to resentment.
Feelings of resentment urge us to relive the same pain over and over, and we have a hard time letting go.
Forgiveness is the remedy. It allows you to focus on the future without combating the past. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.
- Spend prolonged periods of time in negative environments.
You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable. So protect your spirit and potential from contamination by limiting your time with negative people and the environments they inhabit.
Even when you’re alone, create a positive mental space for yourself. Make it a point to give up all the thoughts that make you feel bad, or even just a few of them that have been troubling you, and see how doing that changes your life. You don’t need negative thoughts. They are all lies. They solve nothing. All they have ever given you is a false self that suffers for no reason. (Read Buddha’s Brain.)
- Resist the truth.
Lives come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies. If you resist the truth, you will live a lie every day as the truth haunts your thoughts every night. You simply can’t get away from your truth by moving dishonestly from one place to the next. It takes courage and strength to admit the truth, but it is the only way to truly live. Accept what is, embrace it fully, and live for the possibilities that lie ahead.