Thomas Jefferson proclaimed that one of our inalienable rights is “the pursuit of Happiness.”
We all have the freedom to make that pursuit but, too often, come up embarrassingly short. Our shortcomings are especially noticeable in January when we encounter “a brand new beginning” in which to pursue our idea of happiness!
Some embrace the “brand new” philosophy that comes with the new year and are totally energized, charging into a bright, beautiful future. Others are disgusted by promises of crowded gyms, diet programs and “get rich quick” schemes. If you fall into one of those two categories (and everyone does) this blog is for you.
First, if you’re ready to pursue happiness, let’s agree to “F” other people. (And by “F,” I mean “Forget.” What’d you think I meant?) Sincerely, let’s get out there and “F” the living hell out of them.
Mark Twain told us why we should forget them: “Comparison is the death of joy.” Okay, he said “joy” instead of “happiness,” but I’m saying it. If you live your live comparing yourself to how tall, rich, or toned everyone else is, you will fail in your pursuit.
The second maxim in your pursuit of happiness is, no matter where you are now, and no matter where you’d like to be, you only have two options in life: TAKE ACTION or DON’T TAKE ACTION. This is our binary code, our 1 or 0, our on or off. It really is that simple.
Many believe each person’s binary programming is determined by the makeup of their DNA. It determines whether you are more inclined to the DO or NOT DO. I don’t buy it. Working around really smart computer people, I know that even if you feel you’re programmed to DON’T TAKE ACTION or NOT DO, you can rewrite the program.
You may feel you’re inclined to COUCH vs GYM, ICE CREAM vs BROCCOLI. In your business life, your decisions may be: CALL or DON’T CALL, CONNECT or DON’T CONNECT, GO or DON’T GO.
You are making your decisions in the pursuit of where you believe happiness is found. If you’re CALLING, CONNECTING, GOING, you’re undoubtedly working on things that fascinate you and you are pursuing happiness in a positive way. If you’re NOT CALLING, NOT CONNECTING, NOT GOING, you have a lowly perception of happiness and you’re stuck in a cycle of suck.
The third ingredient for a happy life is to discover what fascinates you. The reason many choose sucky decisions over decisions that can enhance their health or business life is they have no fascination in the choices that are healthy and productive.
Let’s look at your job (although what I’m about to tell you may be true with the other activities in your life and your home as well).
If your job is not fascinating – whether you’re a computer programmer surrounded by dozens of other programmers or your company’s CEO – my guess is you’re not happy.
I have seen it in every profession. Those who are fascinated by what they are doing are living happy lives. They are fulfilled and approach each day with a passion that even inspires those around them. If they have uninspired leadership (and this is key), they become the “fascination leaders.” They lift up those around them and, in doing so, they actually become even happier.
If there is nothing, in your opinion, that’s fascinating about your job, you need to make changes. The changes may be taking a closer look at your job than you’ve ever done before and finding how you are affecting people’s lives and the influences you are having on fellow employees, clients, board members or stockholders. In some cases, it may take a “Jimmy-Stewart-’It’s-a-Wonderful-Life’” moment to turn your life around and find fascination where you thought none had existed.
In other cases, you may find you’re not fascinated with your promotion to sales manager and you were really fascinated when you were a salesperson meeting with prospects and clients, managing their objections and asking for the business, and you have to ask, “When was I happier?” There may, in fact, be other jobs within your company that you find more fascinating than the one you’re currently doing.
And in the most difficult circumstances, your lack of fascination may lead to looking for a position elsewhere.
The important thing is you find that fascination, latch onto it and discover your happiness. Otherwise, your pursuit will end with “the death of happiness.”