Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be happier and healthier in a way that was free, easy with just 3 little steps, and took just a few minutes each day? It’s true and it has been around for thousands of years! (It sounds like a late night TV commercial, doesn’t it?) What if those 3 easy steps were:
- Sit comfortably
- Focus on breathing
- Re-focus on breathing when thoughts come and go
Welcome to meditation!
Are you from a conservative background, like me, and thought meditation was too ‘woo-woo’? Would you say that to super bowl winning quarterbacks or elite forces of our US military? Yep; meditation.
But, maybe you are a high-level executive and don’t have time for fluffy stuff. Maybe you are like hard driving self-described workaholic Dan Harris the NBC News anchor. If you have not watched some of his stuff on-line, here you go:
- Dan Harris and 10% Happier from NBC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sXBEfIXUno
- Dan Harris 10% Happier from Google Talks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt5Qv9tUObI
* Key learning: 3 Base Responses: I Want It, I Don’t Want It, I Don’t Care…And a 4th can be learned through Meditation: Don’t Judge – observe without reaction.
Meditation is accessible to almost everyone and there are no serious negative side effects. If Dan Harris is right, meditation will someday be a common component of everyone’s health, like the evolution of running over the past 100 years. Folks are doing a nice job of dressing it up and re-purposing meditation such as presence or mindfulness…which is awesome! Anything to help with adoption of such an awesome tool for health and happiness.
If you have resisted meditation for religious reasons, there is good news! Meditation is also agnostic; take some time before or after prayer / ceremony / etc. to follow these 3 steps. Watch how it magnifies your experience.
Everything I Know About Happiness…
From what I have been able to put together, happiness is knowing your top 10 list of most important things and living by it. Everyone’s list will differ according to their heart’s true wishes and their beliefs –isn’t that one of the many great things about people?! I submit that those who know their list have a great sense of purpose which creates good energy from within them to thrive and be the happiest…and those who could use more happiness have some work to do on getting their list right and learning how to live by it.
The List Part
For me, based on what I’ve experienced or learned from expert mentors and scientific research as it relates to this earthly world and present reality, ‘things’ to consider on your list to boost happiness are:
(…results may vary…please consult a doctor to see if they are right for you…may or may not be in no particular order…sorry if your personal favorite is missing…)
- Happiness – it IS a happiness list after all!
- Clear Purpose
- Community Fellowship
Get going – Go start your list of 10 most important things right now! Just write and avoid judgment. You will probably have less than 10 on the first pass…and soon will have more than 10. Carefully consider each on the list. Give yourself the time for them to come from down deep in your heart.
Of course, the list has ‘stuff’ behind it like people or resources. Utilizing the stuff from the list is the key more so than the list itself. For instance, my list contains ‘Family’, which provides little power where the memory of my grandmother fills me with feelings of love, playfulness, grace and joy.
The Living Part
To live your life by your list with intention will provide a self-perpetuating happiness system. It will also allow you access to the elusive state of flow where we lose track of time, creativity abounds and work becomes easy. Living your list will also provide resiliency and recovery in times of trouble.
I submit that there is a difference between being alive (life without meaning) and living (life with intention and purpose). I also submit a Life Truth that where you focus is where you go like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Living in an intentional way is easy for some and harder for others. This level of intention and purpose requires moment-to-moment focus on language, thoughts, actions and emotions.
Living your list demands having discipline. Keeping your consciousness focused on the list is hard enough. Even more discipline is required to use it instead of the old ‘bad stuff’ you need to avoid like poor habits or negative thoughts. For me, the key to discipline is a clear vision of what it will deliver. It fuels my will and pulls me forward.
Living your list takes effort; continual practice with the true intention to improve for at least 21 days will create a new behavior pattern or positive habit. And, if you really care about happiness and have the determination to keep going for 10,000 hours (about the same as a full time 40 hours/week job for 5 years), it will yield mastery. Visualize happiness mastery. Really, visualize it: you, the Happiness Master. Drink it into your soul…mmmmm.
To get started, set a reoccurring alarm on your phone or reminder in your calendar to reconnect with your list regularly. This reminder will build the list into your life. Eventually, you will absorb the list’s review into your life so it is automatic like brushing your teeth. You will add it into your daily activities like getting ready for work, taking your vitamins, or preparing for bed. If you are shooting for happiness champion, try setting the alarm for every 10 minutes for an entire day…incredibly good energy!
Bring out the list whenever faced with a happiness challenge or tough decision. This list and the stuff behind it will help center you and guide you. Again, practice makes perfect. The first few times you need the list, you will forget it until afterword. Its OK; review how it could have helped and make a commitment to consult the list next time. Then, at some point, you will remember the list during a time of need and you will use it to help you. Also, if a negative thought or feeling keeps coming up, have the self-awareness to pull up your list and focus on it (and the stuff it represents). This will re-direct you in a positive direction and avoid the breeding of more negativity.
At the end of the day, take just a few quiet minutes to reflect on the day. Give yourself credit for all the awesome stuff you did from your top 10 list of most important things. Your brain will marinate in happiness while you sleep all night long…more mmmmmmmmm.
When this day next month comes, reaffirm your list…and keep going! When you stumble forgive yourself, and get going again. Keep going. You Can Do It!!!
Still shooting for even greater happiness? Indulge yourself by journaling about living your list. Or, if your cup is over-flowing with happiness, share your happiness! The only thing better than having happiness is sharing happiness…it breeds an even deeper happiness. Emotions are contagious – go infect someone with the good energy of happiness!
If your workplace is like many others, the mention of love between co-workers is grounds to go and get HR. Having spent almost 20 years in HR leadership, this would often mean coming to see me. Normally this was due to corporate policies regarding romance in the workplace and an opportunity to make a bit of a joke. None of these instances ever amounted to anything.
Having said this, I find it quite common for co-workers to get a bit uncomfortable when talking openly about love at work. This is an absolute shame because as a workplace happiness consultant, I am acutely aware of how powerful positive emotions can be on the dynamic of successful teams.
So, maybe there is a better way to frame up what love is?
Well, one of my favorite thought leaders in the field of positive psychology, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, has done just that in her talk: ‘Love – a new lens on the science of thriving’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxoPLtRnxZs.
Dr. Fredrickson puts forward some great science that stretches the boundaries of how love is viewed. She defines “micro-moments of love” where we have positive emotions, maintain good eye contact, engage in dialogue, and then…wait for it…our brain’s sync!
Brain scan images of two people visiting together reveal a perfect match “There is one pattern being experienced across two brains.” This is fascinating enough as it is, but it gets even better. Those who brain-sync more thrive more by benefiting from things like mutual oxytocin release and improved heart regulation and function.
I have been a part of sessions at Happywork where ‘micro-moments love’ produced a real breakthrough. This is one of the most energizing and positive work environments I have been a part of and it motivates me to create them again and again. Dr. Fredrickson points out how these brain sync moments are so critical for our survival.
I wonder if the world is ready for ‘micro moments of love’ or if it is fine just calling it collaboration?
What do you think?
Are workplaces ready for love?