Leaders First Seek Happiness for Themselves
Two weeks ago I gave a presentation for Bluefield Community and Technical College and Eastern Panhandle SHRM in Martinsburg West Virginia. The title of my presentation was “The Essence of Leadership.”
I was fortunate to share the conference stage that day with Dr. Mark Taylor. Mark is a distinguished and experienced psychiatrist, academic administrator, speaker and writer. He is also one of the most effective presenters I’ve ever seen (www.taylorprograms.com).
Mark spoke about the importance of leaders finding their own happiness and then bringing that happiness into their workplace cultures so their employees can remain engaged and be productive.
Mark has graciously allowed me to share some of his primary points with you. Even though all of us have read about and pondered happiness over the years, knowing things intellectually is not the same thing as practicing them emotionally and psychologically. So I hope these reminders from Mark resonate with you.
1. Get Physical Exercise
-Aerobic exercise appears to have the greatest impact on happiness
-Walking is sufficient for most adults, though identifying the activities each person finds most pleasurable, like bicycling or swimming, can improve motivation and participation levels
2. Get Outside, Preferably in the Sun and with Nature
-Being outside combats vitamin D deficiency, “nature deficit disorder“ and even seasonal affective disorder
-Studies show that simply being out of doors in nature can enhance personal happiness and improve our physical, mental and emotional health
3. Find Positive Socialization
-To enhance happiness, connect with others through positive relationships, and not just with family and close friends
-The positive impact of secondary relationships with more casual acquaintances has been made more evident as these relationships have been disrupted during the pandemic
-Happiness may be improved when the value and impact of these relationships is acknowledged and efforts are made to re-establish them
4. Find Micro-Joys
-Micro-joys are small, immediately available experiences you can trigger to improve your happiness in the moment
-Micro-joys engage one or more senses and can to bring us into the moment, thus improving our mindfulness
-Whatever engages you makes you happy right now counts; looking at a favorite picture or watching a video; listening to a song; touching a favorite object; tasting a fruit, candy, or savory; engaging with an aroma.
5. Seek Flow
-Flow is a state of intense absorption and involvement with the present moment, when you so are fully immersed with and totally concentrating on a challenging activity that you lose self-awareness, often losing track of time
-Almost any cognitive or physical activity, from rock climbing to working complex math problems, can offer flow,
-For those seeking happiness, each person should find and develop flow- inducing activities, and make time for and expend energy on them.
6. Practice Relaxation and Meditation
-Multiple studies have shown that these practices improve happiness and also have a number of positive biochemical and neurological impacts and overall health benefits
-Having facilitated a mindfulness course for 10 years at Georgetown Law Center, I can vouch for these practices’ positive impact on happiness and effectiveness
7. Feel Gratitude
-Feeling gratitude means choosing to count one’s blessings, focusing on those people, things, traits and experiences that we value
-By doing so, we can counteract negative emotions, create a more positive focus, and improve happiness
8. Express Thanks
-While feeling gratitude is an internal experience, expressing thanks is appreciation brought into the world, acknowledging what someone else did for us or what they mean to us
-Articulating our thanks can have positive impacts on our happiness and on the other person’s as well
9. Intend to be Kind
-As Mark stated so beautifully, “if love makes the world go round, then kindness is the fuel”
-Carrying the intention to be kind and seeking opportunities to help other people, to be nice to other people, to ease their burdens, and to avoid that which may be seen as unkind, may have even greater personal happiness benefits than performing kind acts
Please consider these tips from Mark reminders of what you may already know intellectually but what you may not be practicing on a daily basis. Remember that you have significant control over your own happiness.