Remembering what’s important

May 7, 2009

All this talk about happiness around here lately reminded me of a book I recently read called “The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want.”

Author Sonja Lyubormirsky expresses that in life there are many circumstances beyond our control. However, she maintains that up to 40 percent of our happiness is determined by intentional activity– meaning, what we do and how we choose to respond.  Lyubormirsky explores how, with conscious effort, people can increase their level of happiness and experience a more fulfilling life.

Many people believe they need certain things to be happy, when in fact, the things we think will make us happy actually will not. “We tend to look for happiness in the wrong places – and overlook the true sources of personal happiness and well-being,” writes Lyubormirsky. A person may think they want something in their life to change, but in reality, what the person is ultimately after is happiness.

Think about something you think will make you happier: a new job that better provides for your family? Losing weight? An extra bedroom?  These are the “wrong things” Lyubormirsky references. So often, we pay attention to the things that aren’t important, things that only provide instant gratification. With the hustle and bustle of life and never ending to-do lists, we lose sight of the bigger picture. There are ways to bring more happiness into your life, and one of basic things that stuck with me is gratitude. Being thankful for what you have, recognizing someone just because, remembering someone on a special occasion — it’s the simple things that matter and will be remembered far beyond any to-do list.

What if we applied the happiness principle to business? At the end of the day, you want your customers and employees to be happy. Are you confident that they are? Have you asked them what it takes to make them happy? Have you listened intently to what they’re saying? It might be worth taking time today to ask them the simple question and find out if you’ve been focusing on enough of the right things.