I’m breaking a promise, I know. I promised to continue this week with our breakdown of how to be exceptional on the telephone, but I totally spaced off that it would be Music Monday (always the first Monday of every month), and I’ve been waiting all month to feature this great new song, “Happy People”, by Little Big Town. So, get over it and… be happy!
I’d describe my Dad as one of the happiest people I know. He doesn’t live a perfect life, but he’s happy pretty much no matter what happens. I’ve always dreamed that I could learn to live my life so that people would describe me that way. I think it would be a great epitaph at the end of a life well lived.
Based on a boatload of research over the last few decades, we know that the more we feel genuinely happy, the more we enjoy better relationships, improved health, and more prosperity at work… not to mention, just a better quality of life. So why are we surrounded by so many unhappy people?
You can feel a truly happy person when they walk in the room. They light up the atmosphere, not in an overbearing, attention-grabbing way but rather as a satisfied, relaxed, energetic force. I love the atmosphere that I can visibly create when I’m feeling truly happy inside. The trick is feeling this way even when things aren’t going your way.
Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect in your life or that things always work out for you. I don’t always feel happy, but I have developed a practice of reminding myself when I’m feeling out of sorts that I do have a choice and that it’s only one person’s responsibility to make sure that I make that choice…me! It requires me to do the one thing that defines great self-leadership: take responsibility for my own state of being.
Next, my practice is to focus on the two things that are the quickest roads back to happy: gratitude and faith. Gratitude brings balance and perspective and usually minimizes my angst. Faith settles my fear and helps to stifle the internal voice of worry and stress by reassuring me that things always work out and that, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.”
A recent Harris poll determined that only one in three Americans say they are very happy and that we are less happy as a nation than we’ve ever been in history. What a shame that 1/3rd of our work force, parents, friends, and family are living mostly unhappy lives.
But, if their happiness is not our business or responsibility, then what’s there for us to do about that fact? Tune them out, cajole them, or avoid them altogether? I believe the best thing we can do is to live our lives as a shining example of self-leadership and as people who understand the art of managing our internal experiences no matter the external circumstances, not in an arrogant or disconnected way but rather with the intention of bringing a peaceful example that all is well, good prevails, and happiness is within our control and reach at all times.
Little Big Town’s lyrics capture it pretty well, I think: Can’t buy it, gotta make it. You ain’t ever gonna be it by taking someone else’s away. Never take it for granted. You don’t have to understand it. Life is short and love is rare… and we all deserve to be happy while we’re here. If you don’t find yourself smiling and feeling a little happier when you watch the music video below, then you might need to check your pulse.
Leaders go first. And self-leaders know they’re in charge of their own experience and degree of happiness. I’m wishing you all a week ahead where, if asked, you would say you were “very happy” and that others who know, work, and live with you would agree based on the amount of joy that you bring to your interactions with them and the degree to which you light up the room as you enter. I hope they begin to describe you as one of the happiest people they know.
Little Big Town – Happy People
“Happy people don’t cheat
Happy people don’t lie
They don’t judge, or hold a grudge, don’t criticize
Happy people don’t hate
Happy people don’t steal
Cause all the hurt sure ain’t worth all the guilt they feel
If you wanna know the secret
Can’t buy it, gotta make it
You ain’t ever gonna be it
By takin’ someone else’s away
Never take it for granted
You don’t have to understand it
Here’s to whatever puts a smile on your face
Whatever makes you happy, people
Happy people don’t fail
Happy people just learn
Don’t think they’re above the push and shove
Just wait their turn
They always got a hand, or a dollar to spare
Know the golden rule or what you’re goin’ through
Even if they never been there
These days ain’t always easy to find
They’re the ones that you want standing by your side
No time for greed, if they need some, give ’em a slice
And we’ll all be happy people
Well, life is short
And love is rare
And we all deserve to be happy while we’re here”