It’s a topic I always address when I’m speaking. Keeping yourself happy is a critical success tool.
People mistakenly think happiness is a result of their circumstances. Happiness is purely a result of your response to your circumstances.
Case in point…recently I attended the National Speakers Association’s annual convention. One of the keynote speakers captivated the audience of over 1700 people.
Her name was Immaculee Illibagiza. Immaculee lost her entire family to genocide in Rwanda while ‘living’ for 91 days holed up in a tiny (3ft by 4ft) bathroom with seven other women. Hard to even imagine.
During her entire speech, she fondled the rosary over which she prayed during those horrific days as she spoke about how God answered her prayers, saving her life, those with whom she hid and those who hid her and why she now travels the world speaking of love and forgiveness. Let me repeat that…love and forgiveness.
I was transfixed. Her talk was transformative.
Listening to her made me experience grace, immense gratitude and humility.
Recalling her talk now as I write this article, seems to almost trivialize the necessity of even talking about the absence of happiness for the rest of us who’ve probably never experienced anything even close to what Immaculee went through.
Yet, we all face challenges in life that seem to eat away at, even destroy, our joy.
So, what to do when you’re faced with something that’s bringing you down?
Here are some simple ideas. I’d love to hear yours too. So after reading this article, scroll back up to the top and leave a comment about practices, rituals, actions, beliefs you have that help you maintain your emotional state at optimal levels .
It may be the touch of an infant, the cold nose of your favorite pet, the love (emotional/physical) of your partner, the sound and sights of nature.Identify that item your you and turn your attention away from the thing that’s distressing you.Consciously direct your thoughts toward the more pleasing topic instead.
Find something to be happy about and think about that. Ignore the stressor. Use the relief you feel to help you ‘problem solve’ if necessary.There is a phrase from my corporate life that says “What gets measured, gets managed. What gets managed, improves”. It’s a business process/improvement tactic.
When you take the time to track something you want to improve, you observe it, you learn about it, you catch and correct issues before they go too far astray.It’s similar concept for improving your happiness. Keep track of the things that make you happy.
At the end of the day, think about (or better yet) write down all of the good things that happened to you that day. Some people keep a Gratitude Journal. Noticing good events, makes other good events in your life more visible to you. (It’s like what happens when you buy a new blue car and start seeing that same model and color everywhere.)
2. Take one small action that moves you closer to happiness.
This might be picking up the phone and calling someone you’ve been hesitant about reaching out to for some reason. Play your favorite tune on your favorite device. (Mine is “Happy” by Pharrel Williams,
As I was packing for the conference referenced earlier, a new pair of brown sandals were on the short list of what might get packed. I was looking at them on the floor in my bedroom, when a quiet thought
went through my head “Do you really need to take them?”
I learned this listening to/reading Law of Attraction material from Abraham-Hicks. It sounded selfish at first, but intuitively correct.
masks appear when you’re traveling with small children: “Put your mask on first”.When you’re alive and safe (or sufficiently happy), you can help other people. If you’re unconscious or sad, you can’t.
When I was younger, it was sometimes difficult to ask for what I wanted. I was afraid of what people thought and afraid of how they might react.In order for me to figure out what really might make me happy, I had to pretend no one would know what I had decided.
1. A sense of control
2. A sense of progress
3. A sense of connectedness
4. A sense of vision and meaning
Even in the short time I presented, I found myself talking more than usual about our comfort zones.
It didn’t occur to me how important a topic it was until several people came up afterward to thank me and when asked “what touched you the most?”, they replied quietly and thoughtfully, “the comfort zone part”.
I looked up the definition of a ‘kill zone’ and found it to mean “the area of a military engagement with a high concentration of fatalities”.
So, based on this premise, your comfort zone has created, swept under the rug and buried “a high concentration of fatalities”.
Think about it. Your comfort zone is a vast wasteland of…opportunities you let slip by, dreams you didn’t pursue, relationships you were afraid to develop, jobs you didn’t take, dead-end jobs you didn’t leave, calls you didn’t make, gigs you let someone else win, important conversations you stuffed, trips you didn’t go on, stands you should have taken but didn’t, differences you could have made but ignored, fears you let dominate and prevail, personal growth you didn’t experience.
Have I said enough? Are you squirming yet? I am.
And at some level, it is. But at what cost?
If you could trade that safety for deeper relationships, being fully expressed, earning more money, being seen and making a bigger difference in the world, living a thrilling, fulfilling life experiencing what might seem like magical serendipitous moments, creating the life you dream of, would it be worth stepping out of that comfortable, dream-killing zone?
Here are 7 ideas to break you out of your kill zone comfort rut.
1. Find something on your bucket list and do it this week.
2. Call the person you’ve been avoiding, have the conversation you’ve been afraid to have and do it in a way that honors both of you.
3. Commit to a goal so big and public it scares you.
4. Be more controversial on important issues that matter to you.
5. End any relationship that is no longer serving your greater good.
6. Stop waiting for permission.
7. Stop waiting to feel ready or confident. Take the action you’re dreading; confidence and readiness will appear as a result.
Do any of these and feel your power. Do all of them and expect a miracle (or two or seven or more)!
One of my speaking gigs is being an Actor for a local hospital. They give me a script and I act out various patient roles for nurses in training or those going for a professional certification. The hospital staff and I evaluate them and provide feedback on their patient care style and medical expertise.
On my last gig, we were conducting certification testing for trauma nurses. It quickly became evident that those that followed the system they had been taught, were WAY more likely to diagnose my ailments and save my life than those who were just ‘shooting from the hip’ trying to figure out what was wrong with me and what they should do about it.
That experience started me thinking about the value of process and systems in improving productivity and efficiency at work. Here are some tips you can apply even though you may NOT be a nurse.
1. Have a process and use it.
Shooting from the hip wastes time. Without a process, you’ll waste time and won’t get the desired results as quickly as you might need them. Even for simple activities,using a framework will keep you focused, on task and produce more consistent, reliable results.
2. Make a list of your next day high priority activities BEFORE you leave work.
This will allow you to ‘hit the ground running’ when you get in first thing. You won’t waste that early morning quiet time (if you have it) trying to figure out what to focus on. Even if, especially if, you have a full day right off the bat, knowing what you’ll do before you get in will allow you to allocate precious time more quickly than if you get caught up in the back-to-back meeting syndrome so many people suffer from.
3. Keep the big picture in mind.
The trap many people fall into is dealing with the emergencies that land on their desk first. Of course, if the ’emergency’ is a critical one, you will have to deal with it quickly, but keeping your own important goals top-of-mind will help you triage situations and give things demanding your attention their proper place in the larger scheme of things.
4. Don’t answer the phone or check your email until AFTER you’ve done the top thing on your list.
This may seem like sacrilege or heresy to some, but think about it. Incoming phone calls and emails are things on the top of SOMEONE ELSE’s agenda, not yours. This one takes courage, but if you’re prioritizing things correctly, you’ll make the right decisions. If you’re really worried you’ll miss something from your demanding and irrational boss, scan your inbox if you must, but resist the urge to do anything you don’t absolutely have to until you’ve knocked out your top item(s).
5. Take a break every 90 minutes.
“Step away from your computer!”. Imagine a police officer yelling at you if you need some outside motivation. Go outside if you can, go to the bathroom and relax for a bit. Close your door and play your favorite music video or a snippet of an iTunes playlist. Taking a short 10-minute break, even in the midst of a critical project will rejuvenate your brain cells and reignite your creativity.
Incorporate these tips and see, not only how much more you accomplish, but also how much better you’ll feel in the process.
Most humans resist the idea of stepping directly into the things that frighten them. Of course, there are some things that warrant fear and deserve avoidance action (crime, fire, hurricanes, etc). But those are things we don’t tend to encounter regularly in our daily lives (hopefully).
Fear, none-the-less, is often present and yet not always warranted. If you are reaching beyond your comfort zone, you’ll likely feel afraid. That does NOT mean, you shouldn’t reach. You should always reach.
Here are some specific strategies you can use to take that fear and turn it into freedom, financial freedom or personal freedom.
1. Do the scariest thing on your to-do list the first thing in the morning
This will free you up immediately. Even if you don’t get the result you wanted, just the fact that you confronted your fear and took action will build your confidence and allow you to tackle other things on your list that will now feel easy and breezy.
2. Ask your inner guidance what the fear is trying to protect you from.
Then figure out a different way to salve yourself that allows you to take the action you need to take. For example, if you’re planning a conversation with someone that you’re a bit nervous about, sit quietly with yourself and determine what action or reaction you’re anticipating with worry. If it’s a reaction from the other party, start your conversation with “I need to share something important with you but I’m afraid that (insert the thing you’re afraid they’ll feel or do) “your feelings will be hurt” or “you’ll get angry”. This will do two things 1) empower you to speak your truth and 2) disempower the likelihood of reaction you were afraid of.
3. Know that when you’re about to step off a ‘virtual’ cliff that you’ll either land on solid ground or you’ll learn to fly.
This action just takes faith. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” If the idea weren’t possible for you, the idea wouldn’t have come to you. The Universe is now just waiting for you to take action on it.
Goethe said “What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
There is some controversy that Goethe actually said this (www.goethesociety.org/pages/quotescom.html) but whoever said it, let it set you free.
4. Design strategies or tactics that will minimize the potential for the thing you’re scared of to manifest.
In the corporate world, this is called Anticipatory Planning, Scenario Planning. Attempt to foresee potential problems and develop solutions to them before they become real, current problems. Once you work your way through what might happen and what you’ll do next or what you might do to reduce the likelihood that the thing will happen (as in point 2), your confidence will improve and you’ll handle the situation with more grace, ease and confidence.
5. Ask for help.
You are not alone in this world and you don’t need to face every fear by yourself. As your friends, colleagues, boss, family, spirit guides, God etc. for assistance, support, courage…whatever you need.
Be specific. Ask for what you want.
These tips will work asking for a raise, having a difficult conversation with a friend, stepping onto a larger ‘platform’ in life, confronting a vendor or client, going after a promotion or big prospect. They just require that you take some forward-moving action rather than retreating into your fear or comfort zone and letting your freedom, financial or otherwise, slip between your fingers.
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. ~George Addair
Be aware of your fears, but not beholden to them. Use them as stepping stones to your future and a brave new world. Loretta Love Huff
I listened intently to what they had to share. One of their tips was to ‘release the breaks’. The supposition being that we’re actually doing things (or not doing things) that keeps the breaks on our business engaged.
I gleaned 7 steps from their talk on how to become a highly successful entrepreneur. Add these to your strategic planning and implementation activities and you’ll raise the revenue and profitability levels in your enterprise, even if it’s in its infancy. In fact, the sooner you apply these principles, the more easily you’ll reach your goals.
1. Zoom out
Take time to imagine the long-term vision of your company and your life. Really get in touch with your purpose on this planet and the impact you want to have. Think big. Think bigger than you think is possible. It’s hard to see all of your potential grandeur when you’re not yet there, but work at it and let your perspective expand to the greatest possible heights.
2. Zoom in
Once you’ve gotten clear about the big, bright future, reel yourself back to the present and identify what tiny (or not so tiny) steps you can take TODAY to start down the path toward your destination.
Identify the activities that seem to be generating the best results. Clarify which ones are working. Simplify your processes in order to minimize wasted efforts, resources and time. Unclutter your life and business. Focus on what matters most. Focus on what works the best.
Get rid of everything else that could distract you from reaching your goal
Keep taking productive, consistent action. Keep moving forward. Things may not always turn out the way you expect. Learn along the way. Adjust and keep taking action
Keep looking for revenue streams. Perhaps there are new markets to be tapped. New ways to deliver the products/services you already have. Partner with others to gain access to new prospects.
6. Can it and clone it
Once you have a business model that works, document it. Identify the processes (think McDonald’s). Keep them simple so it can be replicated. Replicate it.
7. Increase your reach
Visibility is critical for success. Look for ways to get in front of your ideal clients. Get referrals, advertise where they hang out, speak to them (individually or in groups) to demonstrate your expertise and value. Use marketing tools to carry the message farther. Get your product or service sean, heard and read about by as many people as possible.
Follow up with them. You’ve probably heard this advice before but are you doing it? The fortune is in the follow up. Follow up!
Implement these 7 steps and watch your business soar.