Seeing the Best

Does being happy matter in business? I think it does, and there is plenty of current research to show that it matters more and more to the customers, clients, and patients in today’s marketplace.

Someone asked me recently, “How is it that you’re able to be so happy with all that’s going on in the world today?” They were speaking specifically about the political and racial climate, but you can “fill in the blank” with your own topic.

We all know it’s a choice. It’s a decision to feel happy despite what others feel and in spite of what may be happening around us. It’s a determination to not only feel good and find the good when things are going well but also even when they are not. It’s a commitment to find the good and the beautiful even when there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It’s a belief that feeling bad for very long doesn’t accomplish anything constructive especially in relation to the things we’d like to change or improve.

But how? How do we do it consistently? What is it that happy people do or understand that the rest of us don’t on a regular basis? Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a stab at that question. I’ve done some research and talked to others who I know to be basically happy and living most of their life in joy and gratitude, and I’ve done some thinking about the tools, techniques, and mindsets that have helped me personally move into and stay fairly consistent with one of the happiest phases of my life so far. I’ll submit them as suggestions to living a happier life and employing happiness as a solid business strategy for yourself and your team.

Suggestion #1: Assume the best.

Your charity didn’t include you in the list of contributors, even though you donated. You weren’t invited to dinner when a group of colleagues went out. Someone cut you off on the freeway. The cashier short-changed you. And you are mad… or at the least, offended.We ascribe bad intent and get offended so easily without ever really knowing the truth for sure. Sometimes people are upfront about their true intentions, but most of time we just assume it for them. I don’t think we are on the minds of most people to whom we ascribe poor intent nearly as often as we think we are. I believe that most of the time these episodes (which we think are personal affronts, intentional slights, or outright attacks) are more often innocuous and accidental at best or misguided mistakes at the worst.

Happy people do not do this. They are in the habit of assuming the best in others and intentionally assigning good intent, or at least neutral intent, until proven otherwise. This doesn’t mean they necessarily like what happens, but they don’t automatically assume the worst in everyone or every situation.

This week, heighten your awareness about how quickly you ascribe poor intent without real proof. Notice the lightness and happiness when you decide to assign the person or situation a dose of good intention instead. Cut them some slack. Make room for mistakes (remembering times when you may have done or said something similar without meaning it.) Exercise grace and forgiveness. It’s not weakness but rather great strength to see the best in the face of the worst. This is the core of optimism… a key component in great self-leadership.

“Grace has been defined at the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.”  ~~ William Hazlitt