I contend that happiness can be called upon any time of the day, no matter how busy you are. We don’t normally associate happiness with busy-ness. However, many of us do find stimulation and satisfaction from our work. At the same time, how often do you stop to acknowledge just how satisfied and stimulated you are? In other words, during a stressful day, can you still find a moment to Find Your Happy?
On a typical day, most people are plunging through their action list trying to accomplish as much as they can amidst all the various Zoom meetings they’re required to attend. They’re wondering if anyone will care if they turn off their Zoom camera and keep on working.
During one of those hectic days, do you ever stop to think, “I want to feel good,” or “I am going to stop and smell the roses.” In other words, “I am going to stop for a moment and feel happy or very satisfied.”
What is happiness? Is it that elusive feeling you get from the idea of being rich or famous? No, not really. Happiness comes from within your brain. It’s a feeling of contentment or joy. Many of you are managing two jobs: your day job and your family, some of you – all at the same time since the onset of Covid-19. How can you stop & smell the roses, when you barely have time to get everything done?
I submit that happiness can be foundin quick and easy ways throughout the day and evening. Here are seven strategies.
Finishing a difficult project or something simple like cleaning out the garage fills us with a strong feeling of pride from the accomplishment. The brain loves a completion and it rewards us with dopamine.
Accomplishing a task that you felt was going to be a big challenge – that took days, weeks or even months releases dopamine. It’s that feeling of achievement when you finished. Look for those little moments of accomplishment at work, when possible, and focus on them, even for a moment or two. Take a moment to soak up the pride you feel. When you finish your day, write down how that accomplishment made you feel so you can experience the joy of your hard work from that day.
#2 A job well done
This is an important piece for you managers. Showing that you value your employees is a huge part of caring for your employees and building loyalty, trust and retention. People want to feel valued, and giving compliments when earned is the best way to show value. This creates happy feelings for both you and your employee.
Spending time with a good friend whom you trust produces a huge surge of oxytocin. Unfortunately, one of the most deleterious effects of Covid-19 was not being able to spend time with good friends or family, face-to-face. Zoom helped but there is no replacement for the magic of close encounters.
Oxytocin comes from a feeling of trust when you can lean on a trusted advisor or friend. It also comes from connection, belonging, and social alliances. One of the best ways to increase oxytocin at work is to develop a best friend or accountability partner, someone you can rely on and trust. I wrote all about how to recruit an accountability partner recently. You can see the blog here: https://janicelitvin.com/recruit-an-accountability-partner-to-banish-burnout/.
It is widely known that twenty or thirty minutes of moderate or high aerobic activity releases endorphins, the feel good hormone. Dopamine is also released because of the pride you feel from having completed the goal of exercise that day. Furthermore, exercise stimulates the brain like no other activity by providing more oxygen and renewed blood cells, which help the brain do its job better.
Doing something completely for fun, like going to the symphony or a concert or good movie you’ve been looking forward to can be very relaxing. Hearing music that is either completely new and satisfying to you or that is one of your old favorites releases dopamine. Another way to feel happy is to plan a trip and post your airline tickets or a picture of the location on your bulletin board.
Many fun physical activities are very satisfying just for the happiness, not necessarily for the physical release. Skiing is one of those activities as are kayaking, swimming, hiking, horseback riding and more.
#6 The Sun
Did you know that as soon as the sun hits your skin Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin is released in the bloodstream and a myriad of physiological reactions occur which create mental clarity, good mood, and other physiological benefits.
In terms of stress and anxiety, light improves the communication between various parts of the brain to help us handle emotions. Furthermore, studies have shown that the more time you spend outdoors, the more serotonin you get and the happier you feel. And you also get a boost of endorphins, a feel-good hormone.
Conversely, decreased sun exposure is associated with a drop in serotonin levels which can lead to major depression. For more details see my recent blog post about self-care here: https://janicelitvin.com/what-does-sunlight-have-to-do-with-banishing-burnout/.
Dr. Shawn Achor, Harvard-based happiness researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage and several other books teaches that when you focus on three different reasons to be grateful every day, you will actually change the chemistry in your brain.
Many of these suggestions do not need to take up a lot of time…acknowledging gratitude or pride in yourself is quick but should not be skipped. So the next time you are moving through your power list, take a moment to stop and find your happy. You will feel better, and your day will feel more meaningful.