Monday, November 5, 2012

What Questions Will You Ask Yourself

I have written a lot about the importance of finding happiness. People much smarter than me have written hundreds of thousands of words about how to find what makes you happy. There are entire sections in bookstores (what few still exist) on living a happy life. Every day, people look at you and decide if they think you are a happy person. For many of us, we wonder why we aren't happier and read everything we can to figure out how to get to the level of happiness for which we yearn.

Every time I start thinking about why I am not happier, I ask myself some basic questions. What do you do that makes you happy? How much time have you spent doing this lately? How much have you exercised lately? What is keeping you from being as happy as you want? What difficulties are you facing at work or at home that are causing stress? What can you do about them? What do you want to change?

While this may seem like a lot of questions, I think we have to find a way to ask ourselves these questions more. Instead of waiting until our mind starts wondering why we aren't happier, we need to make sure we are making the time to do the things we really enjoy doing. We need to exercise (as I am living proof that all the studies are correct...the more your exercise, the better you feel). We must look at the things that are keeping us from being happy and figure out how to change them or eliminate them. Being honest about the difficulties we are facing is the first step in solving them. It probably won't be easy, but is necessary. Figuring out what to change is also going to be difficult, but if you aren't happy now, then you have to make changes to become happy.

There are some things you can do and control internally to help, too. Stop taking constructive criticism personally. Hell, stop taking any criticism personally. For me at work, I have a hard time doing this. I want to do an amazing job and any time any of my staff aren't doing things they way they should, I take it is a knock on my leadership. I can't do this and be happy about my work. Instead of looking at criticisms as negative, view them instead as a challenge to do better. Don't think of them as being caused by you not being good enough, instead think of them as stepping stones towards greater things.

Stop talking about other people and instead talk to the people. Difficult conversations are just that, difficult to have. But, they are the best way to get everyone on the same page and help to eliminate any future problems or misunderstandings. We owe our friends, loved ones, family and colleagues the respect of discussing any issues with them instead of everyone around them. No difficulties go away though gossip.

Quit focusing on everything at the same time. Nothing leads to unhappiness more quickly than being overwhelmed, stressed out and not reaching deadlines and goals. We all have a lot of things we need to work on and a lot of things screaming for our attention. Focus on fewer tasks at once and get them done to the best of your ability. Then, move on to the next ones. You have to be able to prioritize.

Cut yourself some slack. We are going to make mistakes. We aren't going to reach every goal every time. There is going to be criticism and feedback. Here's a secret...none of us is perfect. We are going to be harder on ourselves than anyone else is. Give yourself some credit and just do the best you can do each and every day.

Will doing all of these things make you as happy as you want to be? Maybe, maybe not, but it will help to lead you in the right direction. What questions are you going to ask yourself today? What harm is there in trying?

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