Happiness Project. Aim Higher.

Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Chapter 3. Aim Higher. Work.

Quotes and my notes

Happy people work more hours each week – and they work more in their free time, too. They tend to be more cooperative, less self-centered, and more willing to help other people – say, by sharing information or pitching in to help a colleague… they work better with others, because people prefer to be around happier people, who are also less likely to show the counterproductive behaviors of burnout, absenteeism, counter- and nonproductive work, work disputes, and retaliatory behavior than are less happy people.

I’m at this point in my life, that my passions and my skill sets are distinctly different from each other. Unique Genius, by Aaron Ross, was a great program which pulled out of me what my passions are, and what my skill sets are. More on that later. Even though they are distinct and different from each other, there’s a way to find overlap. One of the great insights from Aaron is that my best clients are a previous version on me. That’s huge. Meaning, I can make the most impact on people that are like me or the “previous me”. I know how to help them the best, because I lived through it.

Happy people work better with people. This is true because they can get along with others. I’m not hung up on myself. There is some self confidence that comes with being happy. I’m happy being me. I wasn’t like that. There were definitely times that I didn’t like me. It took me years to be comfortable in my own skin. Without self-confidence, it’s hard to see beyond yourself and work well with others when you’re preoccupied with how bad you feel about yourself. Self-confidence came to me late in life. It came when I felt like I had some useful skills, when I could contribute to a company. Triathlons gave me a huge boost in self-confidence. It’s such an intimidating and daunting event. Just to finish is a huge accomplishment to me. I felt that if I could finish that race, then I could do anything.

Happy people can share better, because we’re not afraid of being ripped off or cheated. My natural, skeptical viewpoint is held in check, by a happy viewpoint. I still see the potential down-side in opportunities, but I refuse to believe them. I refuse to let that stop me from sharing work stuff with others. Some call it karma. Let the douche enjoy working with me, maybe he’ll be less of a douche. I saw this in previous job. Everybody hated my boss, even people in other departments. They couldn’t believe I could stand working for him. I did what he asked me to do. I treated him well and respected him. Yes, he was nit-picky and tedious at times, but he actually taught me a lot about communicating at different levels of management. Revising and re-revising your message until it’s perfect. Find the right tone. Use the fewest amount of words and least amount punctuation as necessary. Keep sentence structure simple. Long story short, he treated me well face to face, partly I believe because I was happy in his presence.

Happy people are better employees. They are focused more on their work than on the drama in the office. They’re out to do a good job, and not to work around the system, fight the system, nor frustrate the system.

Happy people also make more effective leaders. They perform better on managerial tasks such as leadership and mastery of information. They’re viewed as more assertive and self-confident than less happy people. They’re perceived to be more friendly, warmer, and even more physically attractive.

happy-people

Happy leadership is a great topic. Don’t you love working for a happy person? It’s a pleasure to approach them. You’re not terrified or scared of retaliation or blame. Even if you bear bad news, the happy leader will be constructive in the next steps. I lead with happiness, because it is just plain more effective. You’ll actually get what you want people to do.

Enthusiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability, it turns out, because the single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice. Therefore, career experts argue, you’re better off pursuing a profession that comes easily and that you love, because that’s where you’ll be more eager to practice and thereby earn a competitive advantage.

This is great career advise. Maybe a few years late for me. But, better late than never. Even in my mid-life crises (plural), I found this was true. Enthusiasm and passion trump innate gifts. We’ve all seen gifted people waste their talents. How discouraging is that, right? So, finding my passions and blending them with my experience and skills is the essence of the Unique Genius program. It’s not really starting over from scratch, as much as it is blending my passions with my skills. It leads me in new directions and new opportunities. At the core, it’s not simply starting a new company and quitting my job. It leads me to start new projects and look into new adventures, or improving the way I work at my current job. Starting this blog is one output from UG. Starting mentoring program is another output from UG. So, what are my passions and what are my skill sets? What do I really wanna to do in life? [Wow. That escalated quickly.] Before I answer that, I have to say that Happiness Project works on many levels for me. On a base level, it helps functioning on a day-to-day level. Increase happiness by making my bed, and by hugging your wife. It works on higher levels, like listening to your body, listening to your boss. And, it works on the highest levels, like looking at yourself and life. What do you like about yoursefl? Can you be content and happy with what you have right now?

Passions. At the end of the day, I want to make a difference in someone’s life. Improving and helping someone else is the best thing I can do in life. Obviously I’ll do this for my own family, but even outside my family, there is a passion to help other people improve their lives, increase their happiness.

Skills and experience. At this point in life (I’m 44), I have years of engineering and project management experience. Design work and manufacturing experience. I don’t talk a lot about my job, because that’s not what this blog is about. Above, I mentioned that the best client is a previous version of me. That’s the most awesome insight all year. Now, I know who I can help the most. Because I’ve been there and pulled through. If you’re interest in a mentoring program with me, then contact me and we can chat about it.

Launch a Blog

I did exactly that. I started this blog in January. Both Happiness Project and Unique Genius programs recommend starting a blog. Why? How does that make any sense? Blog is sharing. This blog was my New Years Resolution. I’ve really enjoyed it so far. Sharing myself and the things I’ve learn. It’s putting my ideas down in writing. Some posts are narrative only. Pictures and comments about an event I went to or survived. In those posts, I go back sometimes and add lessons that I learned from those experiences. There should always be a point to the story. There is always something to learn. Book reports are sharing an author’s thoughts and my reactions. These are more rare posts, because they take time and energy. I’m not a great writer. I write to get it out there. I don’t edit it to death. It’s never going to be perfect. It’s intended to be timely, not perfect. “Choose Happiness” is a place for other folks like me to find me. Law of Attraction says that you will attract people that are like you. This is how they can find me.

When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Appears.

I’ve learned that you prepare yourself, even if you don’t know when it will happen. When I’m ready for new challenges, they suddenly appear. When the greatest opportunity slaps you in the face, you’re ready to grab it.

Enjoy the Fun of Failure

This is a hard one for me. I’m not sure I enjoy failure as much as I should. I definitely picked up the notion of learning from failure. I understand the lessons in life now. It takes great humility to admit failure, and it takes emotionless impartiality to evaluate a failure and analyze for lessons learned. That’s not always fun. Last year’s failure hurt a lot. I definitely learned a lot, but it was not fun to me. I think I would say it differently: Enjoy picking up the pieces. In order to move on, you have to deal with the details of the failure. There is a long timeline associated with some failures. Closing a business. Filing & paying taxes for the business. Clearing the books. Closing bank accounts. I find satisfaction in accomplishing the closure. I can take that as the win.

Ask for Help

Wow. Yeah. That’s the truth. I took a mentoring class for buying and managing rental properties. It was very pricey but worth it. Asking for help and getting professionals is always worth it. Get it done right. Learn from those that have done it right already. Trust that they know what they’re doing and teaching you to do it right. It takes another gulp of humility to ask for help. With age, it’s easier to ask for help. I know what I know, and I know what I don’t know. And now I know that it’s cheaper in the long run to ask for help and get it done right, usually by professionals. For some small hobby type things, it’s fun to putter around and do it yourself, but my time is precious and valuable. It’s likely not worth my time and energy to try to solve things that need professional work. As I speak, one of the toilets at home is leaky. I spent 3 trips to the home repair store to figure out that toilet needs professional help. I’ll spare you the details.

Work Smart

One of my favorite blogs to read is www.lifehacker.com. It’s awesome. There’s lots of very practical stuff blogged every day. Hacking life. Tidbits that I use everyday. One example. My closet. I rotate my work clothes. After I wear it or wash it, it gets hung on the starting end. In the morning I can pick any ones I want, but it returns always on the starting end. Slowly, things that I never pick filter toward the other end. I can easily pluck that stuff and donate periodically. It ends up being the shirts or pants that don’t fit well, or I don’t like anymore. Now, it’s a self-filtering process. I love little efficiency / productivity hacks like that.

Enjoy Now

Enjoy now. Enjoy the process, the journey. It’s not about suffering now to enjoy later. Or, worse yet, ignoring now to enjoy later. Tal Ben-Shahar describes the “Arrival Fallacy”, the belief that when you arrive at  a certain destination, you’ll be happy. “when you get married’, ‘when you get that job’, ‘when you get paid that much’, ‘when you get that phone’. Let’s face it. Real destinations come with more responsibility and more work. So, enjoy the current responsibility and work now. Having a baby or getting a promotion, come with more of both.

Ambition and happiness. Are they incompatible? Can I be happy with what I got now, without being motivated to pursue more? Many studies were presented and noted in the book. I think I agree with Gretchen on the fact about happiness and its connection to ambition. When I’m happy, I can be more adventurous and more ambitious. When I’m unhappy, I’m defensive and frustrated and make bad decisions. Triathlon is a great example. When I’m happy, I can tackle amazing physical feats that I never thought I could. My ambition is at its highest, right after crossing the finish line.

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