In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin discusses the relationship between work and happiness. She states that “work is crucial to happiness” and that “happier people make more effective leaders.” What does she mean by that?
According to Rubin’s research, work and happiness should, essentially, be one in the same. She says that leaders who are happy master more and with more enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is more important than innate ability. Why? Because the most important element in developing expertise is the willingness to practice. As we all know, if we are not feeling like our best selves, we are less likely to attempt a challenge or take on a project because we are lacking confidence and motivation during this time. But when we are in a good place, we are ready to put our best foot forward, to aim higher. We are eager and excited and ready to take on the world. We don’t care how it turns out; we just enjoy doing it.
I agree with Rubin that it is hard to stay inspired all of the time. Several times throughout her book, the author refers to the phrase, “Be Gretchen.” It is her mantra for reminding herself who she is. She is a mom, an author, a wife, a seeker of knowledge, a friend, and a woman with quirky habits and a desire to grow. She’s all of those things, and more, at any given moment. We all know who we are. We know how we work, and what we need, what we fear and what we desire. We are ever-evolving beings, but we get comfortable. Rubin reminds us that by stretching our comfort zones, one baby step at a time, we will learn a little more each day, form better habits and maybe without even realizing it, aim just a little bit higher.
Rubin explains in this chapter how she finally tackled the goal of starting a blog. As a writer and someone who wants to start up my own blog, I appreciated this because, like her, as much as I love to write, sometimes I’m just not feelin’ it. So when she lists all of her fears and desires around this, I could mentally picture my list right next to it. And, like her, once I get I get into the groove, I am encouraged because I am beginning to feel a sense of accomplishment and intellectual stimulation which is what work should be. My creative juices are flowing, the ideas are coming and the expression is pouring out. This creates a sense of purpose, ambition and passion, which is what fuels us in life. We are energized by our efforts, and this promotes happiness those around us as well.
I think what Rubin is getting at is how in this frame of mind, anything is possible. Even when we conquer something slightly challenging, we feel a little better, a little more confident, and a little … happier. Some ideas will work; some won’t. But aiming just a little higher exposes you to all new possibilities (thought Rubin did get literary rejections, eventually her exposure got the attention of the Huffington Post and that led to her being picked up by other blogs). When you stretch beyond your comfort zone, you expand your identity, and that brings you into contact with new people and experiences, which are powerful sources of happiness. You also develop new skills; acquire new colleagues, perhaps new friends. More importantly, your vision expands, you expand, and the possibilities expand. Just like in yoga, one stretched muscle affects another, as they are all connected. So, new habits, new efforts, new opportunities all start to overlap with one another.
Goals are easier to tackle in a happy frame of mind. Take some time to figure out what puts you in a happy frame of mind. When do you feel most productive? What motivates you? How often do you set goals for yourself? Do you hold yourself accountable? What brings you joy? Below are some great examples of how we can achieve this both in our home life and our life at work.
Pay attention to your habits. Are you using your time productively? Play around, learn what works. Try things. Even 15 minutes a day makes a difference at the end of the week. Start small and see where it leads. Even in our leadership positions, where we don’t always have the time or privacy needed to get as much done as we need, we do the best in the time we have. Ask yourself what “productive” looks like for you. How can you “Be insert your name” in this situation, by bringing all of who you are, in the best frame of mind possible?
*Ask for Help
This is what your team is for, whether it’s your family, close circle of friends or coworkers. This is a place to find direction, feedback, support and accountability, all of which are important in developing your own sense of purpose and happiness. What holds you back from asking for help more often? How do you process feedback? Do you hold yourself accountable? Shared goals are much easier to attain. Do you share your goals with your team, so that you can receive support?
Don’t get caught up in “reaching the destination.” It’s the journey that makes all the difference. As Rubin says, “the goal is necessary, just as is the process toward the goal.” Let go of fear of failure or criticism and “enjoy now,” enjoy being “you.” We work here because we love people, we love Aveda, we love educating people and seeing them look and feel beautiful. We are leaders because we enjoy nurturing, teaching and inspiring others. Remind yourself to “Be You” every day.
- Lighten Up
- Be Serious About Play
- Make Time for Friends
- Buy Some Happiness
- Contemplate the Heavens
- Pursue a Passion
- Pay Attention
- Keep a Contented Heart
- Boot Camp Perfect