It’s a well know fact that we get what we focus on. What we focus on expands. Every leader knows that.

When we look for evidence that it’s going to be a bad day, we can usually find some reason to make it so. I frequently laugh with clients who think they have nothing to do with what some of them call a “bad customer day”. (That’s kind of like a bad hair day except it starts with one upset customer who can’t be reasoned with and appears to release a contagion that causes other customers to call up and be mean.)

After a good laugh together we examine what really goes on with days like this and discover that maybe, just maybe, where their attention stayed focused had something to do with the outcome of the day and their perception of the subsequent customer’s moods.

I remember a time, before I knew better, that I would label a day a “bad day” before I even got in the door to work. I had determined the outcome of the whole day when I “got up on the wrong side of the bed” or overslept my alarm and only hit red lights (15 of them) on the way to work.

When I look back at that time of my life now, I actually feel sad that so many of my precious moments were spent ruminating and focusing on what was going wrong in my life.

Full disclosure: Once in a while I still go there. Only now, I don’t stay for long. Well, I don’t stay as long…

I’ve spent many years on the “pessimistic” side of the fence. Since I began studying and teaching happiness I have systematically moved the needle in the direction of “optimistic”. I call my new way of looking at things “Realistic Optimism”.

Here’s what I mean. In my Positive Leader workshop I teach this: “Realistic Optimism is the ability to maintain a positive outlook without denying reality. It’s actively appreciating and responding to the positive aspects of a situation without ignoring (appropriately responding, not reacting to) the negative.”sm

This way of responding to the world requires more work. My “Realistic Optimism” requires some thought and some new habits of reacting. Using the same principles athletes use for training you can actually reprogram your biologically driven “fight/flight/freeze” reaction to disengage when threats are not real and give your thinking brain time to kick in with a more appropriate response.

This emotional intelligence requires what I call a “meta” position – the ability to see the big picture at a distance, with perspective, like a hawk does. It’s the ability to observe your own behavior and self correct so you are in better alignment with your goals and dreams.

Let’s face it, most companies want to be more customer-focused and successful. Most companies want to be more positive in their culture and in their attitudes. Most people want good days at work and happy customers. It’s good for us!

As the teachings of Positive Psychology and the results in the real world of business reveal – we get healthier, smarter, more socially adept and yes, wealthier when we raise our “Positive Capacity”.

Experiencing Positive Emotion produces beneficial biochemicals that build immune function and expand creative ability, help us live longer and make us nicer to be around. When we experience 3 times more positivity than negativity we hit a “tipping point” and move into a state of “flourishing.”

Flourishing comes from focusing. As we train our minds to look for the good, the right and the strong we discover more of it, usually right under our noses. Happiness, in one of its forms, is usually happening around us.

August is “Happiness Happens” Month (and August 8 – tomorrow, Happiness Happens Day.) It’s sponsored by the Secret Society of Happy People and it’s taking place all over the world. (Yep, you heard that right) They are having a “Happython” and want you to be part of it!

In August 1998, Pamela Gail Johnson started the society with a simple purpose:

  • Recognize your happy moments with the same enthusiasm as you recognize your unhappy moments.
  • Encourage others to talk about their happy moments too.
  • Don’t unnecessarily rain on other people’s parades.

For the 12th Annual Happiness Month Pamela shared the Happiness At Work activity guide with me so you can get to work noticing where happiness happens where you work.

So after you click one of the social icons on the top of this “tip” and spread the word to your friends with this tip (which will make me very happy) I encourage you to spend a little time over at the Society’s site to see how you can celebrate.

Focus on finding and creating happiness and you will have more of it

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