Once upon a time, a young man and woman met, gazed into each other’s eyes, held each other and knew, for certain, that they were supposed to be together forever. In the subsequent days, weeks and months, everything fell into place, just as they had anticipated. He was perfect in her eyes, and she was perfect in his.
Oh the impulsive certainty of young love! When two souls who barely know each other believe they know everything; that they already know to how live happily ever after in their own blissful bubble. They think this because it’s what their emotions and feelings tell them is true.
But you can easily guess what happens next. It’s what always happens next in phony fairy tales like this. For one reason or another, logic trumps emotion, their bubble bursts, and the two lovers tumble back down to earth, bruising each other along the way and realizing that their perfect partner isn’t so perfect after all.
Maybe he learns that she doesn’t like rock music – and rock music is extremely important to him. Maybe she learns that he never makes the bed – and making the bed is extremely important to her. Regardless of the specifics, our lovers are finally beginning to see each other for who they really are – imperfect human beings. This is the turning point at which ‘falling in love’ ends and the test of ‘true love’ begins.
How should they handle this discovery? Either their mind set adjusts and they accept reality – that true love isn’t so much about perfection as it is about growth and patience; or they move on to the next short-term fairy tale romance in the hope( of finding that one perfect soul mate who does everything just right.
Why am I telling you this story? Because the fluctuating feelings that steer our romantic relationships are quite similar to those that steer our motivation to make a meaningful impact on the world around us. A little passion is all that’s required to start, but only sustained perseverance makes it worthwhile.
Sure, short powerful bursts of effort and seemingly giant leaps in a single bound appear to be remarkable. But they fade as fast as they arrive, and all we’re left with in the end is an unfulfilled void. An enduring dedication – fulfilling promises by marching forward with one foot in front of the other, even when the going gets tough – is what true love is all about. And it’s this kind of love, and only this kind of love, that can make the world a better place. 18
Studies conducted by positivity psychologist, Sonja Lyubomirsky, point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives and refuel the engine to extraordinary leadership.
- Express gratitude.
When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. That sounds cool and right, doesn’t it? So, basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re going to have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
- Cultivate optimism.
Extraordinary leaders, like winners, have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful leader is the one who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. He knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
- Avoid over-thinking and social comparison.
Comparing yourself with someone else can be poisonous. If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves with, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates. Conversely, if we’re ‘worse’ than the person, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made. The truth is that most times, this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
- Practice acts of kindness.
Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.) Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? Bystanders will be blessed with a release( of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.
- Develop strategies for coping.
How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character. Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable. It helps to have healthy strategies for coping rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
- Nurture social relationships.
The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely? There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with. We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
- Learn to forgive.
Harbouring feelings of hatred is horrible for your wellbeing. You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion. When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system. You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you through-out your day.
- Increase flow experiences.
Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It’s when you’re so focused( on what you’re doing that you become( one with the task. Action and awareness are merged. You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional. You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
- Savour life’s joys.
Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It’s easy( in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
- Commit to your goals.
Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force. Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere. When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing. Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – sub-consciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
- Practice spirituality.
When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognise that life is bigger than us.( We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever. It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
- Take care of your body.
Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest and extraordinary leader you can be. If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.