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Weird concept:”The Happy Few”.

Honestly, to me it seems The Happy Few are usually not so happy. And besides, thanks to Positive Psychology we know exactly what to do to be happy!

Happiness is 1. a muscle that you can practice and 2. a choice you make.

Let’s start with 2. Yes, I no longer have to adhere to any rules but my own, so I can start with 2. if I like!

 

2. The choice you make

Say, you are not making the choices that are at your heart’s desire.

For instance: you tell yourself you are safe when you’ve got 500K on the bank.

I promise you, once you’ve got that 500K, you realize you’re only safe when it’s 1 million. Safety is a feeling you have inside – that feeling cannot be bought with money. Like you would go to the supermarket and pick safety off the shelf.

What you have to do is deal with the feeling that’s underneath the need for safety. Something happened at some stage in your life that made you decide that you needed to be safe: what was it? Were you frightened by an event, did you grow up with lack of money or fights over money? Did something happen in your life and you do not ever want anybody around you to have to feel that way, ever again? Not on your watch? Only you can tell. Only you can fix it.

 

Or: you tell yourself you have children to take care of.

My question back to you is: what are you showing your children today? That life is about being unhappy and dragging yourself to work you hate? Being responsible at all costs? That grumpiness is a state of being? Or would you like to teach them to find a way to do things that bring you satisfaction and joy? That leading a fulfilled life is more important than status, or owning the latest BMW? Maybe to you the material stuff matters a lot, it’s not up to me to say what makes you happy! In that case, stop reading here. I don’t want you to waste your time!

 

Beliefs

This concept that you have to be useful, or that you need to keep up with the Joneses, or that you are not safe: it’s a BELIEF. Does that belief serve you? Does it make you feel good or bad?
If it makes you feel bad instead of good, how would it feel if you would let go of this belief? What would your world look like without that belief? How does it sound once you stop telling yourself this story?

Honestly: who would you be without that belief?

Though there is more to this, I do not want to keep you here all day, so let’s jump to:

 

1. The happiness muscle

This is easy! Loads of research since Positive Psychology was invented by Maslow and further built out by Martin Seligman and Barbara Fredrickson.
Prof. Fredrickson has a free course on Coursera.org if you’re interested to know more.

You’ll want to develop your muscle for happiness through the following methods:

  1. Flow:

    When you do what you like, at a level that is pleasantly challenging for you, you will get into a state of flow. This means finding activities that enhance your personal mindset & heartset. In my previous blog, I talked about knowing your core values and going back to childhood activities. This will help you define what it is that makes your eyes sparkle. Key is that you can be absorbed, fully focused on your activity.

  2. Meaning:

    Finding meaning, as described by Victor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. We all need purpose, belonging, meaning. Developing a spiritual sense for what you would like to do with your time here on earth has proven to be very useful to achieve a higher level of happiness.

  3. Gratitude:

    O, yes, this is a big one. Every day, morning or evening, or morning and evening, make your list of 5 things you are grateful for. For quicker results, make it 3 times 5, with an increasing level of difficulty: things you are grateful for in your life, what you are grateful for in your work, things you are grateful for in yourself, personality or skills.

  4. Compassion:

    Developing greater compassion for self and others means less (self-)criticism, means less negative emotions. And the ratio of negative versus positive emotions changes, guess what?
    Loving-kindness guided meditations work really well to develop compassion. Check out positivityresonance.com for instance. Begin with the meditation for Self-love.

  5. Forgiveness:

    Holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and hoping for the other person to die. You’re the only one suffering physically and mentally from the anger you contain. It’s simply not healthy. You have a choice: let the anger, the grudges, the sadness about this person or situation go. Release it. It does not mean that you condone what was done or what happened, or that you will ever see eye-to-eye with the person concerned. It means that you release the emotions about it through a mental exercise imaging telling that person or people that you forgive and ask to be forgiven for your share and then imagine them telling you the same – you do not (need to) do this for real. The reason you do both sides, forgiving and be forgiven, is that sometimes, consciously or unconsciously, at some level, we feel guilty ourselves, e.g. for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. After doing this, you will find that, instead of letting the other person off the hook, you’ve let yourself off the hook.

 

The journey

Now, this could become a rather long story. And indeed, it has been a journey.
Unfortunately, you do not fix a life-long practice of pushing yourself to ever further horizons where there may or may not be a beautiful sunset and green grass in 10 minutes at the end of a work week.
However, if you would like to get support on that journey to learn how to take the shortcuts, feel free to get in touch! Many of these practices we cover in my Emotional Intelligence for Managers course.

Learn more through this on-line, on-demand course:

https://Bit.ly/EI-training[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1536398006361{border-top-width: 10px !important;padding-top: 10px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”841″ img_size=”full” css=”.vc_custom_1536398068554{border-top-width: 10px !important;padding-top: 10px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1028″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]So, I was sitting at my desk, with Mont Blanc view, in my dream job, leading a great team, interesting projects. Happily married, a lovely house, dear friends, bucket loads of money and …. I was freakin’ unhappy. What the heck?! Impossible! Embarrassing! Unthinkable!

To cut a long story short, I found my way back to happiness with positive psychology. Rainbows & roses. Let me tell you about it… or am I the only one with luxury problems?

What if the job you loved makes no sense to you now? You had energy to run marathons before but now you ask your love to kick you out of bed each morning. All your life you were convinced that you must add value, work hard, rise to the higher echelons. You’ve pushed yourself day-to-day like a top athlete. Is turning your life around really an option? Retiring early? Going down another path? What to do with the rest of your life?  You may fear the lack of status. Because who are you, if not the VP of xyz, the partner in this firm, the director at this company? Who will want to know you if you are no longer moving within your professional network? You may fear not having that regular income, not convinced you deserve to live so selfishly, choosing to do only what you want. This is not what your parents taught you. Who are you to live only for pleasure & freedom? Not earning that income, losing that status, no longer measuring your success by a big car, a job that impresses, being useful to society in a way you believe is right… If becoming a rat-race drop-out is your dirty secret desire … I’ve got some tips.

If you already know that you want to become rat-race drop out, jump to section B) below.

If you’re not sure yet, let me ask you: do you frequently tell yourself “O yes, I’m OK, but I’ll be really happy when…..”?
Far too often we project our happiness into the future, to the moment we’ve achieved x, y or z.
And then when we achieve x, y or z, happiness is again postponed, because now we realize that what we really need to be happy is a, b or c.

 

A) What’s keeping you?

I was personally chasing the top jobs for two reasons:

Status: if people respected and admired me I would feel good about myself. Or so I thought. Until I realized that even if I was highly respected in my field of work, I felt the same inside as I had always felt. Which was “ it’s never enough” . I was always chasing the next achievement, the next promotion, the next project completed, higher numbers in earnings and cash than last year.
Do you recognize this? That you cannot celebrate your achievements? That it’s never enough? Or you celebrate for about 5 secs and then you move on to the next peak to climb?

Hide my introvert nature: as long as I had a role which allowed me to reach out to people, or people had a reason to speak with me about my work, I didn’t have to worry about how to start a conversation and about what. I was my job, that defined my role in life. I didn’t have to wonder who I was without the function.
How do you introduce yourself? “I am [name] and I am [function] at [company]?”  Is that your identity?

You may have other reasons to keep chasing the dream

  1. I NEED to be useful, add value, because … well… eehm…
    I will become an outcast if I don’t, people will reject me, I will die, …. Or something like that?
  2. I CANNOT feel safe unless I have € x,xxx,xxx on the bank.
    What if I, my spouse, my children get an accident, become seriously ill, lose their job, the house is destroyed by a fire, ….?
  3. People WON’T take me seriously without this job, this money, this house, this life style.
    And who am I if people do not take me seriously?
  4. I WON’T be happy without this job, this money, this house, this life style.
    Forgetting that you are not happy now, as it is….
  5. I MUST keep growing, learning, achieving, because standing still is like dying.
  6. ….

If you’ve got other reasons, please do let me know – comments are welcome!

This becomes a problem when you feel you don’t have a choice or you’re not considering other possibilities, as showing in the “one ought to”, “must”, “should”, “cannot”.
We have our conscious and also unconscious reasons to keep going, without stopping to realize we have that choice to simply be happy now. That you have everything you need, right here, right now.

“But…, but…, but…” you say?
All nonsense, there are people happier than you, living a way worse circumstances. The question in the end is: do you want results, or reasons?

 

B) Leaving the rat-race … for what?

Maybe you don’t know what’s at your heart’s desire, you only know it’s not this you’re doing now.
Go back and remember: what did you love to do as a child? What puts a smile on your face? Wouldn’t you still love these same activities?
What have you lost along the way that you’d want to recover?
And, have you ever done a Values Exercise to find out what is really important to you? You can drop me a note for instructions or find it on the internet. Basically, it comes down to writing down the most important life events, what you learned from them and why they matter. Keep asking yourself what lies beneath that is important , till you come to your (current) core values like freedom, safety, creativity, compassion, learning. Does your job tick these boxes? What kind of role will tick them? Get in touch if you would like to having a sparring partner for how to find security, and a solid base to start living your (new) dream.

Top job = top sport

When you’ve been in the corporate game at a high level, you’ve played top sport. High levels of adrenaline, performing under pressure or stress, with big responsibilities. This is not child play. You may have loved the game, you may still love it, or possibly it has worn you thin.

In any case, when you switch or retire you will need recovery time. It may be that you need to let go of the stress levels slowly, like a former athlete who’s building down their sport’s heart.
We all know (about) people who dropped the moment they retired. My granddad was Corporate Controller at Unilever and did exactly that, my father-in-law was a VP at Solvay and did exactly that.
I retired at 46 and was ill during 6 months. I just came off the phone & the friend I was talking with needed 8 months to get back in shape.  So, what I learned is that it’s better to make a plan – you may want to build down slowly, or ensure you give yourself time to recover while keeping the carrot dangling in front of you: creating an enticing plan for the future.

That plan you can create and bring to life with visualization exercises. Close your eyes and dream: what does your life look like, sound like, feel like, smell like in 3 years from now?
Who’s with you? Where are you? What time of day? Is there a soundtrack to this? How do you feel when you look around you?
How do you know you’ve got what you need, right there and then? Then what are the steps you took to get there?
For all I know, it might be a sunset on a beach, apero and dinner with some friends and family, celebrating that 2 years ago you took the leap to finally start with ….

Let me know!

More on the happiness journey to rainbows & roses here: http://intervitalize.com/train-your-happiness/[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1031″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]