You may have noticed a theme here this year. I’ve decided to offer an alternating series on Happiness and Personal Energy. I’ve been researching, studying, living and making a living from educating others about how to improve both for their personal and professional lives as well as showing organizations how to improve both to beef up their bottom line. The two are intricately intertwined because a large majority of our energy is emotional energy. If our mindset is set on negativity, sadness, dark drama, emotional baggage and such; no matter how many energy inserts we add to our lives, we will still feel drained of energy.
The Positive Psychology movement gained a foothold about 20 years ago and it’s been a very interesting thing to watch this shift in the science of psychology. Martin Seligman, a Philadelphia psychologist is the father of the field of positive psychology and happiness. He began by asking “what if happiness was more than the absence of sadness and what if we could have a kind of psychology that focused on the positive instead of on the negative and what has gone wrong?”
Since that time, in January 2005 TIME Magazine ran a cover story on The Science of Happiness, then Fortune 500 corporations, the military, Harvard, the Federal Government and a growing mass of the public began to run with this theory. In 2010, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh published his business memoir Delivering Happiness and it debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list at number 1. There is something to this happiness thing.
Contrary to what the Declaration of Independence says; happiness is not something we PURSUE, it’s something we DO…or rather an accumulation of the many little things we do every day. It’s HOW we decide to live our lives. One of the very best exercises I can share in pinpointing how to realize happiness in our lives is the Ideal Day writing assignment. I believe I’ve mentioned it before and it bears repeating because it is so powerful in its simplicity.
Find quiet time and get comfy to spend as long as you need to dream and visualize your Ideal Day and write it down in exquisite detail. Capture all the little things that bring you happiness such as fuzzy puppies, lush towels, down comforters, soothing smooth jazz music, fresh-squeezed pink grapefruit juice, 80% dark chocolate, cashmere…but I digress. Begin with when you wake up and move throughout your day and describe what your senses experience, what you do, how you do it and what your surroundings look like, sound like and feel like. Afterwards, do a gap analysis of your Ideal Day and your current life. What is missing? What can you easily insert into your current life from your Ideal Day? If you can’t focus on just one day. Do what I did and write down your Ideal Day for the Fall/Winter and one for the Spring/Summer because mine included skiing to sailing and I needed more than one day to capture it.
Next, look at your gap analysis and see what you already have in your current life from your Ideal Day? What can you celebrate? What do you have or what are you doing that already brings joy and happiness that you may be taking for granted? Often, we neglect to honor and enjoy certain things until we don’t have them. We think it’s just a normal thing. I’ve recently experienced this by having knee replacement surgery. Down for the count for several weeks with a walker and crutches and I knew immediately that mobility and absence of pain/vitality were things I didn’t savor nearly enough. Yep, being able to move through the world confidently that I won’t fall down is now on my list in my Ideal Day.
Once you find things from your Ideal Day that you don’t yet have; make a plan to be, do, have those things that would bring you joy and happiness and energy. When we are happier, we have more energy. Sadness brings lower energy. The research says that it’s not the big things that come around few and far between, it’s the smaller daily things that create the happiness. How you realize happiness and increased personal energy is by doing simple things and doing them often. Your assignment is to write down your Ideal Day. Your homework is then to make a list of what you already have or do from the Ideal Day and then make a list of what you can insert into your life from the exercise.
Meet me back here in a few weeks and get your next installment of the Happy Factor.