Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are You Happy?

 Are you happy?
  • Do you spend time each week on important things like yourself?
  • Do you have work or hobbies that you love?
  • Do you make time to commune with family and friends?
  • Do you spend your time, talent, and treasure wisely on things like helping others vs. buying more stuff?
If the answers to the questions above are YES, you get a hall pass.

If NO, keep reading.

I read a fascinating book this weekend called (what else?) Happy by Ian K. Smith.

According to Smith, 50 percent of our happiness is hardwired at birth.  (Yes, it's possible to be a natural born grouch!)  However, the good news is that the rest of our happiness is up to us!  And there is much that you can do to boost your happiness. 

You should read the book, but here are a few happiness boosting tips that jumped out at me.
  1. Start a gratitude journal. - Make a few notes EVERY DAY about the things that you are grateful for.  In addition to boosting your happiness, a gratitude journal will make you a better fundraiser because you'll get better at thanking your donors, volunteers and employees.
  2. Spend your money on things that last. - There is scientific evidence to show that how you spend  your money may be more important that what you make.  Spending money on others (aka CHARITABLE GIVING!) boosts happiness.  It makes those endorphins dance in our brain.
  3. Spend LESS time on social networks and more time with friends and family IRL (in real life).  It's also well-researched that people with strong social ties are happier than loners.  Make time to nurture your close relationships and develop strong ties with others.
  4. Choose your work wisely.  With commuting times at an all time high and work days growing longer in the U.S., where you work is key to your happiness.  We're not all lucky enough to get to choose our jobs but even if you aren't pursuing your preferred profession yet, find ways to make your current work day better.  Bring snacks for your team!  Send thank you notes to co-workers who brighten your day!  Take some time away from your work every day.  It's the small stuff that will lift your mood.
Happiness is not all up to us.  As mentioned, researchers believe that much of our outlook on life is hard coded at birth.  But the good news is that biology is only part of the story.  According to positive psychology, at least 40 percent of our happiness is variable and we can improve our own happiness by working at it every day.  

Make it a priority to make yourself feel better and by extension sow more joy in the world.  Being happy is your birthright, it's also a better way to live.




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