“Want to” vs. “Have to”: What it means in happiness terms.

June 9, 2009

Want to or have to?It is rather easy to sort people in either one of these two groups. They have very specific and very different behaviors.
For the “Have to” people, everything seems to be a chore. They do not seem to have much fun in life and certainly even less at work. They are the ones that get up in the morning dreading going to work, they hate Mondays and they desperately long for weekends. Their heads and backs are bent under the overwhelming weight of the world they have to (of course) carry on their shoulders.
On the other hand, the “Want to” people seem quite happy, they enjoy what they do (of course, since they want to). They are upbeat and do not seem to carry any heavy burden. The positivity that they exude has nothing to do with the amount of work or the lifestyle they have. All the difference is in their attitude.
The “Want to” people enjoy life more, simply because they have made choices. They have taken charge of their lives and have shaped it around what provides them with fulfillment. Unfortunately for them, the “Have to” people have not reached that point, and they tend to let their environment (boss, family, friends, TV ads, etc…) decide for them what they have to do. Indeed, living somebody else’s life can be tiring and frustrating.
Yet, making the switch is not very difficult, and the best is to start with simple things. What activities, either personal or of a more professional nature do you like to do and provide you with satisfaction? Pick one or two for a start and make a habit of them. The fun that you will get by carrying out these activities will be the best motivation to add more of them in your life.
All it takes is to make the first move, start gradually and persevere. Just take charge of your choices. There is no need and no rush to change everything at once; after all, you have your whole life to reach your goals.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

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Tip: Make their day, they will make yours!

May 11, 2009
Here is a simple way to make yourself happy. If you do it only once, you will be happy for a little while. If you do it on a regular basis, the feeling will get much more permanent.

All you need to do is to give positive feedback or a compliment to someone when they do something that you appreciate. Of course, this works only if there is a genuine reason and if the compliment is genuine as well.
Flattery or hypocritical compliments will not have the same effect. Although it probably makes the person who receives it happy, it will not provide you with as much fulfillment as it does when it is meant.
For instance, this week I wrote a recommendation on LinkedIn about a former colleague. His reaction was quite positive and a few good things have happened since then.
An other example was yesterday: I went to a drugstore to buy something that I had seen on ad in their flyer. I could not find it and I asked an employee for help. He went in the back to see if they had any in inventory, which they did not and he offered me to write a rain check. He did this with so much professionalism that I was quite impressed. When I left, I had to compliment him on how helpful he had been. The smile on his face just made me feel really good about myself, too.
I made their day, and their response made mine as well. Even if it was about rather mundane stuff, the return was above any expectation.

So, go ahead! Give good people around you the genuine positive feedback they deserve when they do something right! It does not matter if it is in your private life or at work. You will feel great about it, and I bet that you will repeat it in the future.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


How to be happy

May 11, 2009
A few days ago, I saw on CNN the title of one of the topics of the day: “What really makes people happy”. A whole program!
Of course, this being a dear topic of mine, I clicked on the link and read this article, written by a collaborator at the Oprah Magazine. If it is linked to Oprah, it has to be true.

Well, I read it, and like most article on the subject, it gives a number of examples of what makes some people happy. It also refers to some professor and some science about hormones, since we have to try to explain everything. It mentions the connectedness between people, and being involved in something bigger than yourself. To that, I yawned and said blah blah blah, because once you are finished with that article, you honestly have not learned much, if anything.

So here we are, with a bit of science, a bit of spiritualism, a bit of humanism, a bit of metaphysics trying to find the absolute recipe for happiness, the ultimate quick fix. And out there, you can find an army of people who try to sell exactly that. This is just like the get-rich-fast-and-safely non-sense. It does not really exist, and that is a good thing, because that feeling of earning what you have is so much more satisfying!

Happiness simply does not come to you that way!
In my life, I have helped many people to express their potential, I have opened their eyes, I have transformed their lives for the best, and I have made them achieve things that they did not even think they could ever do. And I have developed all those “techniques” on myself as well. Therefore, I know firsthand what works and what does not.
And here is the simple truth about happiness: there is no universal or absolute method on how to be happy. However, there are a few truths about the process of becoming happier.

Happiness is being in balance with yourself and your environment
balanceIn order to be happy, you need to know yourself. This sounds obvious, and yet because of lack of self-awareness, many people look for answers in all the wrong places, and can spend their whole lives being unhappy.
Then, you also need to know your environment. Who are your friends, your relatives, your colleagues, your neighbours. Do you really want them? Are they bringing you what you are looking for? Are you in the right place or do need to consider a change? And is that change about your environment or about you?

You must incrementally meet your needs and your values through action and objectives
Everyone has his/her very own and very specific cocktail of values, needs, desires, goals and dreams. It comes from their personality, their upbringing, their education, their social circle, you name it. This is why what makes one person happy does not necessarily bring any satisfaction to someone else.j0438395[1]The first step to increase your level of happiness is to identify the ingredients of that cocktail. The following steps are about setting targets on how to meet those values and needs more as time goes by. Trying to satisfy needs you do not really have, will not work on the long-term. Just look at a child at Christmas: the new toys are exciting the first day, a bit less the next day and soon they will be boring. The toys met a short-term desire, in most cases inspired by outsiders, especially marketers, but did not answer a true deep wish. And I am sure that you can find many similar examples of meeting the wrong needs. It might bring short-term satisfaction, because a nice surprise is always nice, but it will not last because it is not the right answer.
Having objectives, or you can call them wishes, desires, dreams, is of utmost importance to be happy. It gives a feeling of purpose to your life, and therefore to you! Objectives are powerful drivers to grow and gain wisdom. If you doubt this, just try to imagine having to spend the rest of your life with no goal at all. How does that idea make you feel?

This is not a passive process; you must have a plan, practice and train regularly
To do the above, nothing beats making a plan. It has to be a plan shaped around your values, in which you will determine your needs and set up a number of steps and set time lines to achieve them.happy
Happiness will not fall upon you per accident. If you want to be happy, you need to want to be happy. Nothing nice will happen to you unless you initiate the process and keep its momentum going.
Happiness will not stay with you, unless you nurture it. You have to work on being happy on an ongoing basis. If you stop your efforts, you will see your level of fulfillment drop over time. Being happy is an active process, and just like sport, your performance at it will decrease if you become complacent. And this is where so many fail at happiness: it takes discipline and persistence.
Happiness is not about being in a state of permanent bliss. It has its ups and downs. Being happy does not mean that you never experience negative feelings like disappointment or frustration. This happens, and it happens to all of us. But truly happy people know how to find the resources to overcome such negative feelings, to refocus on what will make them feel good, and take the proper action to correct that temporary setback.

So, now you know how it works. Have you noticed that I do not bring any explanation that involve money, religion, spiritualism, love, friendship, meditation, science or any of the so many terms that usually are used when talking about happiness. That is simply because they are all valid, but they are not all valid for all of us. Everyone must choose what works for them!

For those of you interested in the CNN link here it is: What really makes people happy

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


Signs of a good company culture

May 11, 2009

You know what they say to job candidates: you have only one chance to make a good first impression! This is valid for a company, too.
Regardless of any PR work done or how well crafted their website might be, nothing compares with just the possibility of walking around and watching.

First, take a good look at the surroundings. Are they inviting? Is this a place where you would like to spend half the time that you are awake? If the place reminds you of a hospital or a prison, you probably do not want to work there, unless of course the place is a hospital or a prison.
Nothing spells sadness more than empty silent corridors with closed doors. A high-energy high performance place is alive. It is buzzing with people and communication, and generally most doors are open.
Another thing that catches my attention is the presence of those business posters on the wall. You know, the type that will celebrate the virtues of teamwork or of customer service. Unless they have been placed by the employees themselves, it might be a good indicator of the management style and communication style. Instead of leadership by walking around and frequent contacts, the company probably prefers totalitarian regime-like propaganda. Some of those posters are really pretty, though.

In Good CompanySecondly, just observe the people. In the great places to work for, people exude happiness. They will smile at you in the corridors and they will say hello. Beware of the workplaces where you will not even get eye contact, forget about a smile.
A good place to go for a quick assessment of the culture is the water cooler/kitchen/coffee machine. When you pop in, watch what happens! In a good company culture, you can be sure that the employees present will look at you and greet you with a smile. If, instead, your arrival causes the voices to turn down or simply stop, with straight faces and an awkward silence, then you can be pretty sure that the discussion topic is not about how to beat last month’s results.
A brief chat with the employees will show you the company culture. In a good company, people are genuine and enthusiastic; when they talk about their workplace, you can see their eyes and faces come alive and do not be surprise if you have the feeling that they try to convince you that you should work there, too.

In a good company culture, everyone makes sure that the workplace is friendly and inviting. The main signs of a good company culture are happiness and absence of fear! And this describe exactly the “happy” (using vicious would be inappropriate) circle. Fostering happiness and fulfillment increases the commitment of the employees and their performance. They will go the extra mile for the company without asking anything (well not much) in return. They will not watch the clock to decide when to go home. They will leave when they have that sense of completed work. The absence of fear allows the employees to be more entrepreneurial and to dare more. This increases the performance of the company, reinforces its competitiveness and, success breeding success, this creates more happiness and fulfillment in the workplace. Full circle.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


The meaning of life

May 11, 2009

Some subjects have the ability to keep you busy for a while. The title of this article is one of them.
The problem with it, though, is that the answer is really difficult to find and cannot be verified for sure. Depending on whether you are a scientist, a theologian, a philosopher or a hockey fan, the way you will answer this question will vary quite substantially.

The Meaning of Life

Therefore, this question remains mostly an intellectual exercise, which can be satisfying, but it lacks practicality.
Instead of tormenting oneself with the absolute answer that no one can find, maybe because there is no such absolute answer, this topic can be dealt with in a much more stimulating and practical way.
All you need to do is to slightly change the question, from “What is the meaning of life?” into “What meaning do I want to give to my life?”. This simple shift of scope can do wonders, and quite rightly so, because it now offers you the possibility to become your own Creator, thus shifting the scope of another difficult quest for absolute truth that has kept mankind busy for eons.

There are a few simple steps and simple things can help you creating a very meaningful life:

  • Identifying which values are really important to you.
  • Identifying what makes you feel alive.
  • Taking the initiative, instead of letting your environment make the decisions that will shape your life.
  • Persisting when you meet resistance.
  • Always identifying the positive signs and remaining enthusiastic.
  • Taking the opportunity to learn and improve.
  • Venturing out of your comfort zone.
  • Not being afraid of setbacks, as they are part of life anyway.
  • Making decisions and keeping moving on.

Giving a meaning to your life is all about pursuing fulfillment and finding gratification in your activities, and this as much in your personal life as well as in your professional life. If it happens to fill a universal significance, too, then that will be a nice addition. However, you must build your life for yourself first, because all that counts is that your life means something to you.

The worst thing would be a meaningless life, wouldn’t you agree? But that can happen only by waiting and not taking action. So, live, experience, try and share!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


The shift from negativity to positivity

May 11, 2009

Unfortunately, negativity takes quite a toll on too many people.
It brings an array of feelings and emotions that are eventually destructive. Yet, there are simple ways of dealing with negativity and move towards a much more positive approach of life.

 

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Negativity is used with different meanings. In many cases, someone will be labeled as negative, just for being critical, which annoys the person who is challenged. This is why calling the “challenger” negative is an easy way to dodge what may be a difficult discussion.
This is not what I mean by negativity in this article.
What I mean is the attitude that reduces anything and everything to an almost impossibility to do and achieve anything, a systematic refusal to even consider undertaking. It is the preference of the unsatisfying status quo above the potentially riskier change. It is loaded with negative experiences, such fear of failure and of rejection.
Negativity does not bring anything good in life. It leads to inaction, frustration, even sickness and depression.

Nonetheless, negativity is not a final condition and it can be turned around without to much difficulty. This, however, does not mean without effort…
The first step is to recognize that you have landed into negativity, and to have the desire to change this. Very often, this where most of us can feel “stuck”. How to make the switch to positivity?
A very important aspect of turning things around is to not isolate yourself, which is common when you do not feel too happy about yourself. Let the people that you trust that you are willing to change for the best will bring you more support than you would think, and for a simple reason: people who like you suffer of your negative mindset, too, and they will be more than willing to help you become more positive. So, do not hesitate to let your closest friends and relatives know what you are doing and have them get involved.

A really good way to deal with negativity is to increase your level of self-awareness. Every time you realize that you have a negative thought or reaction, just say “stop!” and rephrase your thought in positive language. For instance, instead of saying “that won’t work” ask yourself “how could I make this work?”.
Also, have your friends participate in this and allow, even mandate them to be the ones saying “stop” and ask you what you think you should have said instead. This method can actually quickly become a very playful experience and stimulate you to do more of it. After a while, you will already realize how much better you feel and how more optimistic you have become. This exercise is like gymnastics of the mind and brings good results.
What also works very well is to focus on the successes and not spend too much time on failures. By celebrating the victories, you will create a dynamics of enthusiasm and success, which very quickly will by far outweigh the attempts that went wrong. This will grow your appetite for more victories, as well as your refusal to accept defeat and fight harder next time to achieve your next success. There again, support and help from trusted friends and family makes this process faster and more effective.

Life is a constant challenger of your will, of your aptitude to dare and of your knowledge and abilities. This is how we grow, feel better, and achieve fulfillment. Take on the challenge and make your life fun and exciting!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


Success and happiness: which came first?

May 11, 2009

I have heard and read about this question quite a few times, without getting a very clear answer, though.
Probably, this is because the question as such does not really address the core of the issue it wants to raise.
In my view, both success and happiness originate from the same, and grow in a very similar way.
In order to be successful and happy, you must start with shaping your life around your core values, and not around those that your environment imposes on you. Only by doing so, you will be able to choose and develop activities that, both professionally and personally, can bring the fulfillment and the enthusiasm that are required in any successful endeavor.

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Success can be a rather difficult concept to formalize, as its definition depends greatly on what you consider important for you in life. For some, this will be making lots of money, for others it will mean have a family, it also could be gaining a position of power or reach a certain social status; it could be becoming famous, and so on.
If you try to eliminate the subjectivity that goes together with the variety of values, a good definition of success that I have heard is that “success is to bring what you start to its completion”. I personally like this definition, because it describes very well the whole process that is necessary to reach the required satisfaction to feel successful.
What, to me, reinforces my conviction that success and happiness go in parallel is that you can write the same paragraph above, just by replacing success by happiness and the text will make just as much sense.
It is quite difficult to try to see a relation of cause and effect between the two concepts. Indeed, if you are not happy, can you feel successful? In the same line of thought, can you feel happy if you are not successful? You probably cannot.
Next to engaging in activities that match your values and working on bringing them to completion, a very important aspect for both success and happiness is to get others involved as well. Never hesitate to ask for help, for support and for feedback. You will never have enough of those. Other people’s input is very valuable to stay motivated and determined, as well as to avoid losing track.
A great way of increasing your level of happiness and success in life is to first envision what the ideal world would be. What would you do if you were the one who could make things “perfect” for yourself? Once you have defined this ideal world, you can start developing your own plan. Although in some cases, a drastic change could work, I would recommend having a step-by-step approach, as a drastic change all of a sudden could bring a lot of uncertainty and chances of failure that not everyone can handle. Set your targets to go from point A (where you are today) to point B (your ideal world). Define each step clearly and set realistic and rigorous timelines to this plan. Timelines are quite important because they will force you to keep taking action. Not doing so will always end up in inaction, because we are all very good and finding excuses to postpone what we prefer not to do. Another important part in the execution of this plan is to designate someone (friend, coach, family member, etc…) to remind you, to enforce these timelines and if needed to reprimand you, because there again, if you can get away with procrastination, chances are that you will indeed.
To sum up, the way to happiness and success requires the following: build your life around your values and choose the environment in which they can flourish. Have a plan to improve your level of fulfillment. Share the enthusiasm with others. Celebrate every success along the way. Do not forget to ask for assistance to make sure that you will not divert and give up on your plan.
This last point is actually quite important: many people feel unhappy because they have given up on their dreams.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.