I want to hear laughter!

Here is the best anti-stress medicine I know: laughter. I have applied it in my professional life as well as in my personal life and it works superbly, and there is no negative side effects known to man.

Hahaha!I have spent a long part of my career in industries dealing with perishable products. Per definition, such products cannot be stored for very long and this makes the business dynamics quite intense, and often stressful, as “everything must go” and for a profit, mind you. Therefore, my assignment to them, next to (or I should say as part of) doing the job was to make me hear some laughter. It did not matter what the reason would be, as long as there would be fun. In that line of work, we were lucky to be able to find many reasons to laugh because we were dealing with colorful characters and we could easily find the funny absurdities of the business. The head office would involuntarily also provide for much material to us as well. If my staff would not laugh frequently enough to my liking, I would pop in and bring some craziness of my own to help them out. The results were amazing. With a small team (comparatively to other units of the company or to competitors), we were able to deliver a performance second to none, we were able to solve more problems than the others were, and we were having fun. Even as we worked long hours, nobody burned out. On the contrary, success was constantly bring new and more energy to our team. Once again, the boring, unimaginative and bureaucratic HR department was wrong. Managing is getting things done by your team. Therefore, you had better take good care of your people, and the best way to do that is to have them laugh on the job. It means that they are having fun, and when you are having fun at work, it does not feel like work. Good managers know what is right for their business. Have them laugh!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

Ten Signs of a Happy Person

Just hap-pyHappy people are easy to spot. In no particular order of course, you will notice the following about happy people:

  • They are in good health
  • They smile, laugh often, and look at others in the eyes when talking to them
  • They are assertive, and not aggressive
  • They do not show signs of envy or criticize others; they have a positive attitude
  • They are loved and make other people happy
  • They have no addiction, because they just do not need any
  • They like what they do, personally as well as professionally, and they like who they are
  • They are themselves, and they accept others the way they are.
  • They are not selfish or self-centered
  • Problems do not seem to stick to them; they just deal with them.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, how many people do you know meet the above?

Copyright 2009 – The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

How to Be Happy

Here is the simple truth about happiness: there is no universal or absolute method on how to be happy. However, there are a few truths about the process of becoming happier.

Happiness is being in balance with yourself and your environment

balanceIn order to be happy, you need to know yourself. This sounds obvious. Yet because of lack of self-awareness, many people look for answers in all the wrong places. They can spend their whole lives being unhappy. Then, there is the direct life environment. Who are your friends, your relatives, your colleagues, your neighbors? Do you really want them in your world? Are they bringing you what you are looking for? Are you in the right place or do you need to consider a change? Is the necessary change about your environment or about you?

You must incrementally meet your needs and your values through action and objectives

People have their very own and very specific cocktails of values, needs, desires, goals and dreams. It depends on their personality, their upbringing, their education, and their social circles. This is why what makes one person happy does not necessarily bring any satisfaction to someone else. The first step to increase your level of happiness is to identify the ingredients of your own cocktail. The following steps are about setting targets on how to meet increasingly these values and needs in the future. j0438395[1]Trying to satisfy needs that you do not really have will not work on the long-term. Just look at a child at Christmas: the new toys are exciting the first day, a bit less the next day and soon they become boring. The toys meet a short-term desire, in most cases inspired by outsiders, especially marketers, but they did not answer the child’s true deep wish. There are many similar examples of quick fixes meeting the wrong needs. They might bring short-term satisfaction, because a nice surprise is always nice, but the feeling will not last because it is not the right answer. Having objectives, wishes, desires, dreams, is of utmost importance to be happy. It gives a feeling of purpose to your life, and therefore to you! Objectives are powerful drivers to grow and gain wisdom. If you doubt this, just try to imagine having to spend the rest of your life with no goal at all. How does that idea would make you feel?

This is not a passive process; you must have a plan, practice and train regularly

To do the above, nothing beats making a plan. It has to be a plan shaped around your values, in which you will determine your needs and set up a number of steps as well as set timelines to achieve them.  happyHappiness will not fall upon you per accident. If you want to be happy, you need to want to be happy. Nothing nice will happen to you unless you initiate the process and keep its momentum going.
Happiness will not stay with you, unless you nurture it. You have to work on being happy on an ongoing basis. If you stop your efforts, you will see your level of fulfillment drop over time. Being happy is an active process. Just like sport, your performance will decrease if you become complacent. It takes discipline and persistence. This is where so many people fail at happiness.

Happiness is not about being in a state of permanent bliss. It has its ups and downs. Being happy does not mean that you never experience negative feelings such as disappointment or frustration. This happens, and it happens to everyone. The difference with truly happy people is that they know how to find the resources to overcome such negative feelings. They have the ability to refocus on what will make them feel good. They take the proper action to correct that temporary setback.

There is little need to try to bring any explanation that involves money, religion, spiritualism, love, friendship, meditation, science or any of the so many terms that usually are used when talking about happiness. That is simply because they are all valid, but they are not all valid for all of us. Everyone must choose what works for him/her!

Copyright 2009 – The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

Happiness’s Worst Enemy: Fear

If it is not always easy to find out what makes people happy, it is not difficult to find many reasons why they are unhappy.

In the long list of factors hindering someone from being happy, one reason comes out in particular: fear. In the book “Who moved my cheese?” a quote sums that up: “When you are not afraid, you feel free”. This statement is so true. Fear has a particular ability to make people create their own mental prison, from which it can be difficult to escape. It paralyses us.

There are many causes of fear. Here are just a few, merely because they are rather obvious examples: fear for the own safety, fear of losing a job, fear of losing someone, fear of rejection, fear of failure, etc. Actually, fear produces the opposite of happiness. Happy people expand and radiate. They look for what will come next.

Happiness puts people in motion. It is a very powerful driver to enjoy more of life, since life feels great, and to become more active. When they are afraid, many people tend to undertake less, to isolate themselves, and to become passive. Clearly, such feelings are very negative. With such a mindset, it is difficult to feel happy, and the risks of possible health issues are quite real.

Is the best way to become happy to overcome your fears? To some extent it is, as less fear means fewer inhibitions. The best way to be happy is to be alive. To get there, it is necessary to feel alive first. Of course, this does not mean that ignoring fear is a good solution, as fear has a function of self-preservation, but there are ways of accepting fears and managing them. The best advice is: live! Take chances without putting yourself unnecessarily at risk! Enjoy and be happy about what you have, instead of being unhappy about what you do not have! That latter part will come eventually.

Shifting from Negativity to Positivity

Negativity takes quite a toll on many people. It brings an array of feelings and emotions that are eventually destructive. Yet, there are simple ways of dealing with negativity and move towards a much more positive approach of life.

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Negativity is the attitude that reduces anything and everything to an almost impossibility to do and achieve anything, a systematic refusal to even consider undertaking. It is the preference of the unsatisfying status quo above the potentially riskier change. It is loaded with negative experiences, such fear of failure and fear of rejection. Negativity does not bring anything good in life. It leads to inaction, frustration, even sickness and depression.

Nonetheless, negativity is not a final condition. It can be reduced without too much difficulty. This, however, does not mean without effort… The first step is to recognize that you have landed into negativity, and that you have the desire to change the situation. Very often, this is where most people can feel “stuck”.

How can one make the switch to positivity? A very important part of turning things around is to avoid isolating oneself, which is common when people do not feel too happy about themselves. Letting the people that you trust know that you are willing to change for the best will bring you more support than you would think. There is a simple reason for that. The people who like you suffer of your negative mindset, too. They will be more than willing to help you become more positive and succeed. Do not hesitate to let your closest friends and relatives know what you are doing and have them get involved. The difference of attitude is about two choices: “Want to vs. “Have to”. It is rather easy to sort people in either one of these two groups. They have very specific and very different behaviors.

For the “Have to” people, everything seems to be a chore. They do not seem to have much fun in life and certainly even less at work. They are the ones that get up in the morning dreading going to work, they hate Mondays. They desperately long for weekends. Their heads and backs are bent under the overwhelming weight of the world they have to (of course) carry on their shoulders. On the other hand, the “Want to” people seem quite happy, they enjoy what they do (of course, since they want to). They are upbeat and do not seem to carry any heavy burden. The positivity that they exude has nothing to do with the amount of work or the lifestyle they have. All the difference is in their attitude.

The “Want to” people enjoy life more, simply because they have made choices. They have taken charge of their lives and have shaped it around what provides them with fulfillment. Unfortunately for them, the “Have to” people have not reached that point, and they tend to let their environment (boss, family, friends, TV ads, etc…) decide for them what they have to do. Indeed, living somebody else’s life can be tiring and frustrating.

Yet, making the switch is not very difficult, and the best is to start with simple things. What activities, either personal or of a more professional nature are fun to do and provide satisfaction? The best is to pick one or two activities for a start and make a habit of practicing them. The fun that carrying out these activities will generate is the best motivation to add more of them in life. All it takes is to make the first move, start gradually and persevere. It is about making choices and taking charge. There is no need and no rush to change everything at once; after all, you have your whole life to reach your goals.

Another good way to deal with negativity is to increase your level of self-awareness. Every time you realize that you have a negative thought or reaction, just say “stop!” to yourself. Then, rephrase the thought in positive language. For instance, instead of saying “that won’t work” ask yourself “how could I make this work?”. Also, have your friends participate in this and allow, even mandate them to be the ones saying “stop” and ask you what you think you should have said instead. This method can actually quickly become a very playful experience and stimulate you to do more of it. After a while, you will already realize how much better you feel and how more optimistic you have become. This exercise is like gymnastics of the mind. It brings great results.

What also works very well is to focus on the successes, and not spend too much time on failures. By celebrating the victories, you will create a dynamics of enthusiasm and success, which very quickly will by far outweigh the attempts that went wrong. This will grow your appetite for more victories, as well as your refusal to accept defeat and fight harder next time to achieve your next success. There again, support and help from trusted friends and family makes this process faster and more effective.

Life is a constant challenger of your will, of your aptitude to dare and of your knowledge and abilities. This is how people grow, feel better, and achieve fulfillment. Take on the challenge and make your life fun and exciting!

Copyright 2009 – The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.