Last week, once again, I had the gift of doing a workshop retreat with CEO’s and their spouses.
Some of the people attending run family businesses that have been successful for generations.
Others started businesses of their own. All have medium to small size companies, so they are very much like you and I – even if you run a department and not a business. They are juggling multiple responsibilities, reporting to many people and wanting to make sure they are doing the best they can be doing for their customers and staff.
This leadership group asked for my three hour program on “Creating Happiness – Putting Positivity into Practice”. I was thrilled, since it’s one of my favorite programs to do. I was smiling as I was eating my breakfast and going over my notes. Smiling broadly.
It was going to be a fun day. The topic itself helps with that.
People report back that this “happiness work” makes a difference in every part of their lives. I’m honored to facilitate a message whose time has come. Business can be a force for goodness when leaders deliberately become more emotionally intelligent and alter the positivity to negativity ratio where they work, and live, tipping the scales in favor of “thriving” over surviving and striving.
One of the nicest emails I ever received was from a supervisor who experienced The Positive Leader workshop with me. “My wife wants to say Thank You”. He began. He went on to say, “She doesn’t know what you did to me but if there was another class of yours I could attend, she’d be happy about that.”
My follow up email helped him articulate what actually “happened” to him that day. He left some old belief systems behind. He adopted a few new ones and a few new habits to go along with them. He made some new choices and chose to leave behind the beliefs that had been holding him hostage.
So, at breakfast last week, I wondered which pieces of my work would have more impact – the discussion about the happiness setpoint [we all have one and it’s genetically determined] or the one on the biases we hold that resist happiness [at the same time we think we want it]?
I wondered how many people would actually put the Positivity Practices in action.
It’s usually a pretty high number with committed, forward thinking leaders. Their families and their teams at work are the most important relationships in their lives and when they get tools – they use them
Here is one of my favorite tools. It’s called “evidence based” in Positivity Psychology parlance. It means it’s been rigorously tested, with control groups, and we know it works to increase happiness when it is practiced, even if only for a week!
The 3 Good Things And Why Exercise
At the end of each day, stop for a few moments and reflect on your day and choose three good things that happened and why. Write them down, share if you wish. You can do it at the end of your workday AND right before bed if you’d like, and you can do it at dinner with the family. Pick the time that is right for you.
Sorting for the good things that happen helps train your brain to be happier as new neural pathways are built and get stronger every day. Thinking about “why” (or simply expanding on the feeling of goodness it gives you) helps you understand how much of a command you do have when it comes to how you feel.
It has been proven that consistently doing this exercise WILL raise your level of happiness.
Right now, let’s stop and think about the last 24 hours, do a quick review of all the good things that happened, and reflect on why. Jot them down on a piece of paper or into an electronic device now.
In the beginning I suggest doing this daily at least once a day at the same time. Over time you will find the right rhythm. After you’ve built your habit strong, you’ll know how much you can modify. Some people do them every other day, some once a week and some people never give up the daily “3 Things” or “3 Blessings” habit and never would.
So why is happiness important to executives today?
- 9 out of 10 people report being more productive in the presence of positive people so raising your capacity for experiencing positive emotions is smart
- A Harvard Business Review article cites a meta-analysis of 225 studies found that happy employees deliver
- 31% Higher productivity
- 37% Higher sales
- 3 X’s More creativity
This high performance doesn’t cost you a dime. It does require that you focus your attention on the things that are right, the things that are strong, the things that are good at least five times more than you focus your attention on the things that are wrong, weak and negative though – and for some people that’s challenging.
Do something delightful for yourself and for your team and your family. Start using the “3 Good Things” exercise at the same time every day. You’ll get your neurons firing together in a new pattern (or strengthen one you already have.) Neurons that fire together, wire together – get yours firing together and form a habit of happiness – a positivity practice – in your life.
One more tip: You can do a business version of this by asking the same question at a meeting. Ask everyone to list 3 Good Things that happened at work over the last day and why. What you learn will teach you a lot about building and sustaining a positive workplace. And it will teach you a lot about your team.