Are you in search of happiness? Many are. Let me save you some time. The truth is that happiness is right at your fingertips: no search required.
If you think like the vast majority of entrepreneurs, you tend to measure happiness by your achievements — and that’s exactly why it may elude you. As a society, we think that success brings happiness, but it’s really the other way around: it’s happiness that brings success.
If you are searching for happiness you may have bought into an age-old myth: the “I’ll be happy when,” myth. You’ll be happy when your business makes more money; you’ll be happy when that major retailer picks up your product line; you’ll be happy when…. Really? You’ve got it backward; when you become happier, when you accept that happiness isn’t “out there,” but inside of you, then, you will achieve those important benchmarks.
Last week I had a wonderful chat with my friend, bestselling author of Love for No Reason and Happy for No Reason, Marci Shimoff. Marci also wrote the world-famous Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul series. She teaches that, rather than seeking happiness in your external environment, you should work on being happy for no reason. Marci defines being happy for no reason as having an inner state of peace and well-being that does not depend on your life or work circumstances. Now, this does not suggest you'll be happy 24/7; you will still feel emotions like anger and sadness, just like anyone else. The difference is that people who are happy for no reason, people who don’t base their happiness on their achievements, are more resilient and bounce back quicker. They live longer, make more money, and are better able to keep illness at bay.
I believe that entrepreneurs have a built-in propensity toward happiness. We are passionate people, often in touch with our life purpose and living a life of inspiration—truly honoring our values. No, happiness is not a stretch for you as an entrepreneur because even if you haven’t met your benchmarks you can express your passion and purpose through your business, and are therefore likely to have a higher than average happiness set point.
Marci’s way of defining a high happiness set point is that, no matter what happens, you will return to a healthy state of happiness because you do not depend on your benchmarks to bring happiness into your life.
Not quite there yet? Here’s a simple recipe to help raise your happiness set point. Blend together these mindful ingredients and you’ll be well on your way!
You have to grab hold of change; pursue it with passion and excitement. When you fight it, change tends to overwhelm you and your life will be filled with regret. When you embrace something new and enjoy the challenge, rather than resist it, your life will be filled with exciting and unexpected opportunities.
Focus on the good.
There are many studies that report on the amazingly positive results of living in gratitude. Our brain is hardwired in such a way that if we focus on negative events, it shuts out our awareness of the positive. There is good in every day; your job is to appreciate it. Keep a daily journal, citing three or more things for which you are grateful. This will train your mind to focus on the goodness in life and bring more of it your way. Try it for thirty days -- you will notice a difference!
We are surrounded by daily opportunities to help others, as well as our environment and global and local communities. You have the power to transform your life by giving to others. Yet, as a driven entrepreneur you are determined to achieve goal after goal. This type of focus comes from a perceived deficit, focused on what you don't have and are trying to obtain. Giving to others is a means to tap into your sense of abundance and overflow instead of lack. It's a practice that gives in both directions.
Reverse engineer your thoughts.
People who use what's called retrospective judgment are naturally happier. Instead of reflecting on past events in a negative way, put a positive spin on them. Sometimes you have to work a little to find the good in something, but when you do, life becomes much more satisfying.
Expect good things to happen.
Have you ever noticed that people who anticipate a negative outcome get exactly that? Negative self-talk and expecting less than desirable results will limit your brain from seeing opportunity. Don't worry about being disappointed if you get your hopes up; the optimist in you will find a way to put a positive spin on that too!