4 Happiness Skills Anyone Can Learn
There are a set of specific, actionable skills & tools that will cause a person to be happy regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in. The following is the short list that I suggest to all new clients.
1. Give up being right.
2. Accept the situation as it is and then take action.
3. Quit pretending you are a psychic who can tell the future.
4. Stop protecting yourself from people who aren’t attacking you.
A Wall Street executive was managing billions of dollars in assets and yet he felt like nobody listened to him and that he wasn’t important. This perspective had him feel repressed and defeated. His positive results didn’t seem to match his unhappy mindset. He was making money for his firm and the firm was doing well as a whole. With further investigation, it turns out that he felt like other people in the firm didn’t think what he had to say was important and therefore he was an outsider and not involved in making critical decisions. He realized that taking on more responsibility was important but felt powerless to do so.I asked him how he knew this was true. He told me about incidents that had occurred the year before. I asked him to give me something that happened this week. He couldn’t even think of something that had happened in the last six months. The Drunk Monkey was at it again.The Drunk Monkey creates generalizations. Example; you walk over, pet a dog and it bites you. The next time you see a dog, it shoots your body full of chemicals that put you on the alert. Do all dogs bite? No! But the survival mechanism will steer you clear of anything today that might have seemed dangerous in the past.
This system is great for making sure kids don’t touch the hot stove more than once but it’s terrible for everyday life. A couple incidents that occurred a year ago that made him feel angry and unappreciated. Since then, he’s been protecting himself against a whole bunch of people who aren’t attacking him and frankly, don’t even remember what happened.
I asked him to consider that he had changed, they had changed, times had changed, and the world had changed since then. I asked him if he would be willing to run an experiment to put The Drunk Monkey into place so he could return to happy, fulfilled and satisfied with work. He agreed. Here’s what I told him to do.
Instead of trying to keep his ideas safe, instead of wondering how he could move his objectives forward; for the next week, find out what other people were committed to. See what the other people in the company were working on and discover ways to contribute to each of the people in the company. Make it a game. See if you can contribute something to someone every day for the next seven days. An idea, a contact, a resource or even just an encouraging word.
Through this process, he shifted from protecting himself from all the people who weren’t attacking him, to being supportive and giving. Within the year he became one of the most celebrated people in his company. Everyone wanted to get him involved in their projects. He was suddenly important. The next year he was recruited away by a superstar in his industry and made a partner in the firm. This was a five-year dream that came true in one. The trick was simple, he needed to be the change he wanted to see in the world, just like Gandhi said.
When you are happy, you are creative, approachable, flexible and easy to be with. Add those characteristics to your skill set and you will see an immediate positive benefit.
Most people believe that happiness is something that occurs when the conditions of life are favorable. But the truth is, happiness is the skill navigating challenging situations without getting reactive. If you wait for happiness to find you, you’ll be waiting a long time. Happiness is an inside job.