What is happiness? This age-old question can never really be answered because we each define happiness in a different way. If you're an entrepreneur, it's likely you measure happiness by your achievements -- and that is exactly why it may elude you.
"In our society, we think success brings happiness, but that's backward: it's happiness that brings success." This according to Marci Shimoff, bestselling author of Love for No Reason and Happy for No Reason. Shimoff has spent more than 30 years researching, speaking, and teaching on the topic of happiness, and has seen entrepreneurs struggle with achieving it.
"There is a tendency for entrepreneurs to buy into the 'I'll be happier when' myth,"says Shimoff. "Entrepreneurs can tend to hang their happiness hat on the benchmarks of their business success." The truth is that when you become happier, you will reach those benchmarks, not the other way around.
Research performed by the University of Nebraska indicates that your psychological capital influences sales, employee participation, and market share growth of your company. Studies also show that happy people experience greater productivity, have healthier relationships, are one-third less likely to get sick, and live, on average, nine years longer than people who remain in search of happiness.
Shimoff suggests that rather than seeking happiness in your external environment, work on being happy for no reason. "Being happy for no reason means that you have an inner state of peace and well-being that does not depend on your circumstances," says Shimoff. She is quick to point out that this does not suggest you'll be happy 24/7; you will still feel emotions like anger and sadness, just like anyone else. "The difference is that people who are happy for no reason are more resilient and bounce back quicker," says Shimoff.
Entrepreneurs certainly know a thing or two about bouncing back and being resilient, so happiness is not a stretch, even if you haven’t met your benchmarks. When you identify with your passion and purpose, and express it through your business, you are living a life of inspiration and honoring your values, and are therefore likely to have a high happiness set point. "This means that no matter what happens, you will return to a healthy state of happiness," says Shimoff.
Entrepreneurs who develop and live their passion, vision, and purpose tend to find that inner state of peace and well-being that Shimoff refers to. Not quite there yet? Here are a few simple tips to help you raise your happiness set point.
Focus on the good.
At the end of the day, if you focus on negative events, you will shut out your awareness of the positive. There is good in every day; your job is to appreciate it. Keep a daily journal, citing three or more things for which you are grateful. This will train your mind to focus on the goodness in life and bring more of it your way. Try it for thirty days -- you will notice a difference!
Apply a positive spin to things.
People who use what's called retrospective judgment are naturally happier. Instead of reflecting on past events in a negative way, put a positive spin on them. Sometimes you have to work a little to find the good in something, but when you do, life becomes much more satisfying.
Expect good things to happen.
Have you ever noticed that people who anticipate a negative outcome get exactly that? Negative self-talk and expecting less than desirable results will limit your brain from seeing opportunity. Don't worry about being disappointed if you get your hopes up; the optimist in you will find a way to put a positive spin on that too!
Too simple to be true? "It may seem simple, but the reality is that's how we change: incremental steps by shifting our old behaviors. It's much harder for the brain to do big leaps because it triggers our fear mechanism," says Shimoff. "The brain likes sameness, so when you can make small incremental changes, you fly in under the brain’s fear radar to find your healthy state of happiness."