Why we need to take responsibility for the happiness of those around us
Guarding happiness is difficult. You can read all the books about happiness you want, but when it comes down to maintaining those practices, Shawn Achor suggests, like gratitude, can seem impossible.
There are a lot of happiness vampires out there, from the simple, like someone cutting you off in traffic, to the more difficult, like the constant pressure to succeed lest you fail the people around you.
That’s why it’s vitally important that we take at least some responsibility for the happiness of those around us.
The happiness vampires
I’ve had the most wonderful vacation over the past few weeks – so wonderful, in fact, that we’ve stayed there almost twice as long as we were planning on. It’s hard to think of something that could steal the joy from a family vacation in such a beautiful area. But it’s not impossible.
In fact, after we decided to extend our stay, and I was up on cloud 9 along with my family, I got not one, but three calls. None of them were good news. Three large clients decided to put my services on hold for the foreseeable future, taking a chunk of income with them. I’m not going to talk numbers, because that’s not what this is about, but it was substantial enough that my family will feel it.
I know I’ll be fine, but there’s something about that, having to tell my daughter no to something because my client left, that threatens to suck the happiness right out of my life.
Nobody has to feel sorry for me. I have an amazing life and an amazing family that loves me. But I’m telling you this story, because I had two choices to finish off my vacation: A) I could descend into bitterness, wishing I never prolonged the vacation, and take everyone down with me; or B) I could collect myself, focus on the happiness of everyone around me and continue to enjoy my vacation.
I’d like to say I chose B and never looked back, but I think, if you ask my wife, she could probably point to some A moments as well. But, I couldn’t have done it if the people around me were dour or unpleasant.
Preparing for kindness
What I’m taking away from this experience is that one of the best ways I can equip my clients to do better, is to take some responsibility for their happiness. What this is going to look like is me taking the time to prepare emotionally before each call, and each meeting.
If my attitude in each meeting or call can increase my client’s happiness then I’ve contributed to their happiness advantage, and possibly, by proxy, to the happiness advantage of those around them.
That’s what I’ve been Thinking Thru. What about you? Can you think of any way you can contribute to the happiness advantage of those around you?