It’s all about the small things
Happiness is a choice. It’s a skill that can be developed with a few simple acts. Yes, this was a surprise for me too until a few years ago when I developed this skill for myself.
I’d just started a new job and was juggling the increased responsibility at the same time as raising a young family. Whilst I wasn’t particularly unhappy, there was something not quite right and I realised just getting by wasn’t enough anymore. I felt that something had to change but actually it wasn’t something big, just my thought processes that needed to change.
Research tells us that our brains are hard-wired to focus on the negative stuff that happens. I see it every day working with people. Ask someone ‘How are you?’ in the corridor at work and you usually get a response about ‘I’m so busy, too many emails and I’ve got back to back meetings all day’. It’s almost become a competition as to who’s the busiest. If you’re not telling people how busy you are they might think you’re not working hard enough. No-one responds with ‘things are great, I’ve loads of fantastic projects I’m working on and it’s giving me a real buzz!’
With the support of a fantastic coach, I realised I was focusing on the negatives and behaving in this way. I’d talk about how I had too much on, how awful a meeting had gone or that I’d looked really stupid in that presentation. It was a constant cycle of negative self-talk. My coach made me realise that there was no evidence supporting my inner-critic and it really helped me to focus on the positives and change the way I talked to myself. I realised that I would never talk to anyone else that way so why was I talking to myself like that?
I’m one of those people who keeps a diary. Years and years of my life written down but when I looked back at the last few months it was all about what a bad day I’d had or how something had gone wrong. That was when I decided that I didn’t want my future great grandchildren to read these diaries and think what a miserable life I’d had. So now I write about Three Good Things every day. It’s amazing and just with a small change, I go to sleep on a high rather than a low. Some days are harder than others so if I look back and see I’ve written ‘It was sunny today’ or ‘the traffic was okay on the way to work’ it probably wasn’t the best day ever but it’s the small things that matter essentially like a hug from my twin daughters or a random act of kindness.
Action for Happiness is an organisation helping people take action for a happier world. Their website www.actionforhappiness.org is a great resource for positive actions and everyday ideas to build happiness and where I got a lot of good ideas to change my mindset, feel happier and help others to feel happy too.
So how does this apply to work? If you are a leader ask yourself what you did today to help your team feel happy? What could you do tomorrow? It doesn’t have to be about grand gestures and it’s actually the quantity of happy experiences that are more important than the quality. The little things make a difference. Practice gratitude. A key part of happiness is giving. A simple thank you can mean the world to someone as it shows you’ve acknowledged a job well done. Show genuine interest in people. Make time for real conversations. Ask people what they did at weekend rather than launching straight into the latest task or project. Celebrate success with your team.
Equally, be kind to yourself as well as others. Coaching can help you to discover your strengths, fight your inner-critic and focus on how you can increase the quantity of happy activities. But if you do nothing else today, find three good things about your day or say thank you to someone you are grateful for. You’ll notice the difference immediately.
Contact Delve for more info on how coaching can make a difference for you.