Written by Mieka Forte
When we think about strategies for success often that plan doesn’t include a section with goals for prioritizing happiness. Happiness may be a small part of the conversation, or even a slight after thought. However, too often it’s left aside or put on the back burner.
Research is now proving just how beneficial feeling a sense of joy can have on productivity, creativity, the ability to buffer stress and increased health benefits, just to name a few. Comments that seem to surface often include “I don’t have the time or the energy to do what makes me happy”, or ”I don’t want to be happy”. Learning how to prioritize our happiness, how to actually be happy AND have a successful career truly is possible and worth it.
In order for happiness to become a reality it takes a simple shift, and then some personal non-negotiables. Let’s face it – we all deserve the life we want, we just have to be willing to show up and do a little work for it. Whether you’re a parent, an entrepreneur, or building your career, you already understand what it feels like to put in the work, so you already have the effort part in the bag. Now it’s applying those same skillsets and including you and your happiness into that picture.
Does this mean that you never have to do a single mundane task again in your life? No, we still need to pay our bills, do our taxes and refill the toilet paper roll. However, what can change is our perspective. Having an open-minded perspective allows the potential for success, happiness, and the ability to overcome adversity that much more accessible, and a lot less stressful.
Choosing happiness doesn’t mean that we dismiss the challenges that life can present, and pretend that everything is perfectly fine all of the time. To create true sustainable happiness it’s important to recognize and process the curveballs that life can throw sometimes. However, once we experience the initial blow of that curveball, it’s what we do with it next – how we let it shape our perspective on ourselves, our careers and even the world itself – that matters.
Most of us are familiar with term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, however positive psychology has introduced another term to describe these experiences as Post Traumatic Stress Growth. What has been recognized is that people who suffer from these curveballs or challenges, and are able to shift their perspective to see how these difficult events have helped them grow, ultimately create a powerful coping mechanism and success strategy. Life will happen, things at work can go wrong; that doesn’t mean it will always go wrong, and it certainly doesn’t mean that amazing things aren’t just around the corner, because they often are.
So how do we learn to ride the wave and choose happy? Yes, copious amounts of research show the massive increased benefits that happiness creates in the realm of success, health and life; but at a personal level, with all research aside, it’s a heck of a lot more fun to choose happy. It’s important to understand how powerful intentional activities really are in impacting our happiness. The research performed by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of California Riverside, and an influencer in the world of positive psychology, teaches that 40% of our happiness is based on intentional activities.
This means that what we choose to do can have a massive impact on our ability to be happy, and can therefore influence our success. These are the aforementioned personal non-negotiables, and they look something like this:
Yep, I said the exercise word. There is a plethora of research discussing the benefits of exercise and the happy hormones that are released when we do it. The key is to find something you like to do, whether it’s dancing, swimming, walking, hiking, rock climbing, or any other activity you can think of. We have to move our bodies for so many reasons, including an opportunity to choose happy. Not only is exercise important, it’s also incredibly rewarding.
Taking a moment on a daily basis to reflect on at least 3 things you are grateful for is a powerful influencer for shaping perspective. If you find days where you’re struggling, it’s even helpful to say you’re grateful for air, water and food.
A study was performed on a monk over a period of 25 years where he meditated every day; through MRI scans, they saw shifts in his overall brain matter, where a greater surface area was created allowing for more of the happy hormone dopamine reception. The good news is, it doesn’t have to take 25 years to experience a difference. In a matter of 21 days, at 20 minutes of meditation a day, changes will result.
Practicing daily affirmations is another great way to shape our perspective. We still have to do the work and take the action. However, taking accountability to shape our mindset is incredibly powerful in choosing happy.
Having a space where we can write down our thoughts, gain some clarity for next steps, process and let go of the day, and express ourselves without the fear of judgment is incredibly important and creates a space for authenticity. When we feel like we are authentic to ourselves, we build a platform of acceptance. When we feel that sense of internal acceptance and self-love, choosing happy becomes that much more accessible.
At first glance, making happiness a priority may seem unnecessary, unrealistic and impossible. However in reality, choosing happy has so many benefits and can shift the sometimes monotonous and gruelling challenges of life into profound, powerful experiences, making room for life to be the beautiful journey that indeed it can be.
Mieka Forte is a RevolutionHer™ Business Member, educator, motivational speaker, and author of The Many Sides of Happy. For more than two decades, Mieka Forte has helped clients and corporations foster more happiness and less stress at work, at home and within themselves. Influenced by her degree in kinesiology, studies in psychology and yoga training, her aim is to guide people to overcome adversity and challenges to live their best life. As a teacher and motivational speaker, Mieka specializes in mindfulness, resilience, happiness, strength-based mental health strategies and stress management. Her work is dedicated to teaching others to bridge the gap between a world dictated by success and accomplishments, and being a human in need of a sense of purpose.