No one is happy all the time, but if you can’t recall recent moments of happiness, you are harming yourself as well as your ability to be a leader. The harm to yourself comes from the chemicals your brain produces when you are stressed or angry compared to those produced when you are happy. Your body needs the benefits of those endorphins to get you through your busy days.

The harm to your leadership ability results from how you present yourself to the world because, in addition to the negative feelings, your face shows it when you are sad, angry, or stressed. No one enjoys spending much time around people who are often unhappy or upset.

The good news is you don’t need large doses of happiness. Even fleeting pleasures can boost your mindset and last for quite a while. The challenge is to identify – and then capture – them in the moment. When something drags you down, if you continue finding these happiness-promoting instances, you will feel happy overall. And that happiness will be seen even through a KN95 mask.

In his in depth blog What Leads to Happiness? Greg Vanourek lists 20 ways you can bring more happiness into your life. Here are his first 10:

  1. Regular exercise and physical activity –. You don’t have to train for a marathon or spend hours exercising. Just include 10-15 minutes a day on your to do list. And especially for those of us currently in winter, do what you can to spend a few of those minutes out in the sun when it appears. Research suggests getting out into the fresh air has an immediate positive effect
  2. Acts of kindness, service, and generosity – The getting is in the giving. When you help others, there is a boost to your sense of self. Take time to notice the small and many opportunities where you can give to others but make sure not to do this at the expense of your own needs and boundaries. Don’t turn giving into a burden or a drain
  3. Purpose and meaning – Knowing that your actions are producing something of value and making a difference is a cause for happiness. Know and notice your “why” when you engage in any activity, including those connected to your job.
  4. Relationships with others – Humans are social beings. As the pandemic proved, it harms us when we can’t interact with others. Don’t let your tasks and responsibilities keep you from spending time with the people you care about and who care about you. You offer support for each other as needed, and it just feels good to be with them. Vanourek says ‘According to many researchers, strong social relationships are the most important contributor to enduring happiness for most people”
  5. Goals and aspirations – This is related to #3. If you know where you are going – and why you want to go there is joy in the journey. As you achieve the small steps, your sense of accomplishment makes you happy.
  6. Authentic expression of self – Be true to who you are. It saves a lot of energy-draining effort. Being a people-pleaser or focusing on what other people think diminishes you and your happiness.
  7. Anticipation – An upcoming anniversary, graduation, or other event in your life adds pleasure. Savor it. If necessary, look to put something on your schedule that you can look forward to.
  8. Gratitude – Recognizing what you have in your life and being thankful for can keep you from focusing on the negatives. Taking a moment to be grateful can give you a happiness boost in the midst of a gray day.
  9. Experience – While something is happening, take time to notice and enjoy it. Do what you can to stay in the moment. Appreciating enjoyable times whether it’s dining out, seeing a ball game, or being with a friend boosts your happiness.
  10. Learning and developing – Mastering a new task or learning something new makes you feel good about your accomplishments. Consider ways you can share your new knowledge for even more happiness.

Happiness is many things. It’s not the huge events that are responsible for making us happy on an everyday basis. It’s the small moments that can make all the difference once we tune into them. When you can take the time for joy and notice what is already good in your life, your happiness will shine and others will enjoy being in its presence.

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