By Jamie Sussel Turner ~
The woman in the green jacket gets me thinking about happiness. I see her nearly every time I walk the boardwalk. We make eye contact and she gives me a quick wave and warm smile. One day I’m walking behind her for the first time. She appears a bit older than I am, from her veined legs and slightly hunched over posture. But she is super fast. I’m curious to see the response her greeting gets from others so I jog to keep pace.
It turns out I’m not so special. She greets each person she passes. Every single one!
She rates a 10+ on my imaginary Happiness Output Scale.
It’s impossible for me to pass her by and not feel just a little bit happier.
What is your happiness output?
Each of us exudes an energy when we’re out in the world (or even at home). Maybe we’re having a bad day and our mood is sour. We may think we’re keeping our moodiness to ourselves, but, like the common cold it oozes out and is caught by those around us. (I wrote about that here: Three Tips to Stop the Spread of Bad Moods at Work.)
I’m not saying we need to pretend to be in a good mood when we’re not. But, I do think we each have a choice about what energy we put into the world.
And the world could surely use some more happiness.
Here’s a little happiness-spreading example.
On a long bike ride I stop to use the public restroom and find a barrel barricading the entrance. The stocky, sweaty man inside says, “Sorry, but I gotta clean this bathroom.”
I smile back, “I’m happy you’re cleaning the bathroom. That’s a really important job and thanks so much for being here to do it.”
A huge gap-toothed grin overtakes the man’s face.
And there you have it. A tiny moment of happiness is spread.
So, one way to up our happiness output is to recognize others for the specific contributions they are making to the world. Acknowledging another person for something positive, with a specific example, is a happiness multiplier.
My good friend, Lisa Luckett, exemplifies this as she spreads her “Cozmeena” brand of happiness each time she hands a small hand-crafted heart to servers in restaurants and other people she meets along her way. It’s a wonderful sight to behold as the recipient of one of Lisa’s pocket hearts smiles with joy. (Hear Lisa’s TEDx talk here: Love vs Fear. Can we see 9/11 in a new light?)
What’s your happiness output on social media?
It’s not just in person where our happiness output matters. How many “friends” do you have whose social media posts go to “the dark side?”
And what about your social media posts? What percentage of them spread happiness?
If it’s less than you’d like, you have a choice to shift the balance and choose to spread more happiness. It won’t take you any longer and may even earn you more friends.
Happiness does not need to be a big event.
Spreading micro-moments of happiness, whether in life or on social media, can increase the happiness of those around us. Even a warm, genuine smile can do the trick. Whether you want to be like the green-jacket walker, create a positive presence online or spread your own brand of happiness like Lisa, just imagine what our world would be like if even half of the people we encounter were a 10 on a Happiness Output Scale?
Remembering these words from the Dalai Lama may help:
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
And a not-so-surprising benefit of taking action to up our happiness output is that when we do, we also end up feeling happier too! So, I’d say we’re always spreading something to those around us. Why not make it happiness? What would you say?
For more on how our actions impact others check out my book: Less Stress Business: A Guide for Hiring, Coaching and Leading Great Employees.