One of the phrases we have always used over the years with our children is “choose to be happy”. This is a really difficult thing to do especially as circumstances dictate our happiness. Being happy requires us to be joy-filled. As I reflect back, I can think of all the moments of upset that impacted happiness in the home. Cancelled plans from others, groundings due to ill-discipline or bad behavior, heartbreak from friends and most recently saying goodbye as we relocated to the USA from South Africa.
In a business context our unhappiness may come to the surface as we can think about that colleague that just rubs us up the wrong way, clients or providers that frustrate us with changes to workflow which cause project delays. Or how about delayed payments, those over 90-days or more, cause tremendous unhappiness in our business.
Of course, these feelings are normal. The challenge we have with happiness or being happy all the time is that we rely on external factors to make us happy. We depend on other people or a situation to go a specific way before we feel happy. It is precisely here that we need to challenge ourselves. If there was a way to be joy-filled no matter what the situation, then that places us in control of our own feelings. Our internal joy will ensure we are happy all the time. This is one of the most difficult things to be intentional about.
I know people very close to me who will say things like it’s impossible to always be happy, you have to be realistic. Perhaps they are missing the point here – what we are working to improve is inner joy which manifests externally as happiness. We must recognize the feeling of unhappiness, acknowledge its existence and then intentionally replace that with a feeling of joy, the same way we build resilience. Being happy doesn’t mean you always feel good. We have to joyfully do what it is needed to create the end result of happiness. Training for a race, studying more to get a good test result attending a training program to enhance growth within the organization – this temporary stress or hardship will result in overall happiness as the results desired will be achieved through your efforts.
How do we create inner joy or personal joy?
- Keep attitude in check by honoring everyone always. Often times I socialize with friends and acquaintances and they will share how terrible the spouse or partner is, how horrible their boss is or how bad work is. This creates unhappiness as you are harboring resentment. Change the narrative, become joy-filled by telling everyone just how amazing your spouse is, brag about them to others when you are socializing, the rewards are endless. As for work, I think of Corporal van Tonder when he said salute the title not the man. Same for your work environment! Honor your boss by speaking well of them. You don’t have to respect the person, but you must respect the title. Consider the pressure they may be facing especially now. Maybe your salary has been cut or bonus held back because of the work situation and Covid-19. Take a moment to imagine how hard it is for the leaders to make decisions that impact the lives of others. If you have issues to address with your partner or colleagues, do this directly by taking point two below into consideration.
- Be honest about your personal feelings and communicate it. How are you feeling about what has just transpired? Do you need to address it with the person? Is what you have to share kind, is it the truth and is it necessary? If yes, then tell them directly by keeping your words soft and tender because you never know when you have to eat them. You will feel better about yourself as you have proactively communicated something directly. Because you got it off your chest, so to speak, they will respect you more, admire you and this will bring inner joy and manifest happiness.
- Put a Positive spin on everything. Plans were cancelled…that is sad (recognize the feeling of being unhappy) okay we have free time to do what we have not had a chance to do let’s do that (intentionally move onto an activity that’s brings inner joy). I remember watching an interview where the late Christopher Reeves was asked what the impact of his disability was on his family and how its impacted them. His answer as I recall from memory was along the following lines: ‘I read how people who grew up in a home where others where physically or mentally challenged are more understanding to those who are different and have different needs in society. What a great advantage my children will have as a result.’ That is a great example from a person I believe is the ultimate superman.
Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at University of California, Davis compares joy and happiness as follows: Happiness is an inch deep and a mile wide, Joy is a mile deep and a mile wide.
Take Command of how you feel and work on being Joy-Filled, this will manifest as happiness in all areas of your life allowing you to win with people.