Are you as happy as you could be with your business and in your life? Happiness is something people talk about, sometimes, fleetingly. It's looked at as something to have more of, certainly. But, how often do you hear the words happiness or joy in relation to business?
For most of the world those two things do not go together. However, a key ingredient to the secret sauce of a successful business is being happy!
When we were kids, most of us were happy. We didn't know there were all of these things to not be happy about. Then it starts; we were told we were too joyful and exuberant, and we begin to tone it down. We discover that laughing too loudly or too often meets with criticism and we begin to perceive all of the stress, concern and unhappiness around us and that becomes what is normal.
Have you ever noticed that when people are having a hard time, they receive empathy, kindness and comfort; but, when someone is visibly joyful the response is often, “what drug are they on?" Perhaps it's time to make happy the new normal. Happiness may not be what you think it is!
Often people think of happiness as an enthusiastic proclamation, raucous laughter, a giddiness; and, it can be expressed that way. Happiness is something we are; it is big and peaceful. Joy is the doing of happiness, an exuberant expression. Both are powerful and important to create a dynamic and fruitful business.
Why is happiness in business important?
For starters, money follows joy, joy does not follow money! This is contrary to how most people look at finances. The prevailing point of view is, “when I have money I will (fill in the blank)!" This creates a conditional relationship that you can't have happy and fully live your life until the money shows up. The catch here is that the focus on 'not enough money' will create more 'not enough'.
What we focus on we create, and happiness is a choice. If you make choices towards what is fulfilling, enjoyable and interesting to you a priority, then that becomes your focus. This sets you up to notice the possibilities for happiness that are waiting for you to choose them. The happier you are, the more enthusiasm and joy you will have with your business.
Keys for creating happiness and joy with your business
Cultivate a rich and satisfying life and living. Take a look at what really brings you happiness and joy and do more of it! When you are living a life you enjoy it is a compliment and boost to your business.
Have you fallen into the trap of making your business your life? Here is a different proposal. Let your business enhance your life and your life enhance your business. Neither one is an island separate from the other. Dissatisfaction in one area can filter into the other very quickly. Instead of making your business the source of your life, allow yourself the freedom to do what you enjoy in all areas. As you do, more money will show up.
Create your business happy: positioning yourself for the greatest possibility. Are you in a role that you enjoy? What parts of it do you have enthusiasm for? These are some questions to play with to get clarity about what will bring the most interest and enthusiasm to your work. Also, explore whether the way you work is compatible with who you are. If you are most productive in the morning, take advantage of that. If you do best with lots of time outside, allow yourself some breaks to take a quick walk or feel the sun on your face.
Start asking open-ended questions about what you really desire and be willing to shift things accordingly. It is critical to be open to change aspects of your business at any moment in order for it to thrive. Don't let boredom, dissatisfaction or frustration take root. Use the flexibility of having your own business to your advantage and allow yourself to shine.
Your point of view creates your reality. What points of view do you have that diminish your happiness? Be willing to look for the perspectives and attitudes about business and money you have. They are changeable, and you can undo the obstacles to having joy with your business.
Some prevailing beliefs are:
- Business is serious (don't have fun with it)
- You have to work hard to be successful
- Work is tedious
- Don't be too successful
Once you discover some of your points of view, flip them 180 degrees and explore if the opposite perspective would contribute to expanding your business and your pleasure with it. Business can be fun and you can have ease with it, even when challenges come up. It all depends on the point of view you choose to take.
Own your happy! Don't fall into the trap of being at the effect of others and their attitudes or emotions. Here is something you are not taught, but which can change everything.
You are aware, very aware. Have you ever been in a great mood then spent time with a friend who is cranky and all of a sudden you are cranky too? Guess what, you picked up on it, and suddenly it seemed like yours. When that happens, it is never yours. It is your awareness of someone or something else. Simply think, “return to sender," and tap back into what is true for you.
It goes against convention to be happy when others are not. And, let's face it, we are not living in a particularly happy world right now. Being happier than the people around us is a no-no. What if the kindest choice we can make, is to live the greatest life we can? It creates an invitation and shows people something else is possible. And, being happy is alluring; the happier you are the more people will be drawn to your business. Because it is so unique, you and your business will stand out.
Be You. This may sound obvious, after all, who else would you be? However, many entrepreneurs are trying to fit into some image they bought of what a business owner is supposed to be like. There are certain norms we accept as absolute without even realizing it. Don't buy anyone else's point of view or projections about how you should be, and how your business should run. Trust that you actually do know what choices you can make that will expand your joy and happiness.
Be willing to experiment and play with some changes. They don't have to be big ones to have a wonderful impact. When you are fully willing to be you, regardless of what anyone else thinks, it is a gift to you, your business and the world.
You started your business for a reason. There was some idea or vision for how you wanted it to be, and how you wanted to be with it. Most likely, being happier and enjoying your life more was a part of it. Are creating that fully? There is no time but the present, so make choices towards YOUR happy, whatever that looks like. It will only create something greater. And, don't judge yourself if everything doesn't go as planned or as quickly as you desire. Every choice will create an awareness of a different possibility. Choosing to be happy is having your own back in a way most people don't even realize is possible. If you keep at it, soon you will notice you have more enjoyment and satisfaction, and both you and your business will thrive.
Following are excerpts from "Unleash the Girls, The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How It Changed the World (And Me)" By Lisa Z. Lindahl
There is an idea that has popped up everywhere from Chaos Theory to Science Fiction and New Age memes known popularly as the "Butterfly Effect." Simply put, it is the notion that one very small thing—the movement of a butterfly's wing say, or the ripple in a lake caused by a pebble being thrown into it—can cause tremendous effect far away: the butterfly's wing a tornado, the ripple a large wave on a distant shore. Cause and effect, does it have limits? The field of physics is telling us that it takes only observation to bring a thing into being. We cannot consider these areas of investigation and not acknowledge that everything—everything—is in relationship in some way or another with everything else.
So, it is evident to me that commerce of any kind is, also, just about relationships. It all boils down, on every level to this simplicity. While we usually think of relationships as occurring between people—it is far more than that.
I used to teach a course in entrepreneurship specifically for women in The Women's Small Business Program at Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont. I made this concept of relationship and its importance central in how I taught the marketing thought process. I would stress that for a product or service to be successful, it had to meet a perceived need. There is a need, and it wants to be met; or it may be thought of as a problem to be solved. Or there may be an existing solution that is less than adequate.
For example: In my universe as a runner there already were a plethora of bras available, but they were inadequate for my purpose. The relationship between my breasts, my running body, and my bra was creating discomfort and distraction. A new solution had to be found, the relationship occurring when all these things came together had to be fixed. Utilizing this point of view, one sees a set of issues that need to be addressed—they are in relationship with each other and their environment in a way that needs to be changed, adjusted.
Nowhere is this viewpoint truer than in business, as we enter into more and more relationships with people to address all the needs of the organization. Whether designing a product or a service or communicating with others about it—we are in relationship. And meanwhile, how about maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves? All the issues we know about stress in the workplace can boil down to an internal balancing act around our relationships: to the work itself, to those we work with, to home life, friends and lovers. So quickly those ripples can become waves.
Because Jogbra was growing so quickly, relationships were being discovered, created, ending, expanding and changing at a pace that makes my head spin to recall. And truly challenged my spirit. Not to mention how I handled dealing with my seizure disorder.
"My Lifelong Partner"
Let me tell you a bit about my old friend, Epilepsy. Having Epilepsy does not make any sort of money-making endeavor easy or reliable, yet it is my other "partner" in life. Husbands and business partners have come and gone, but Epilepsy has always been with me. It was my first experience of having a "shadow teacher."
While a child who isn't feeling she has power over her world may have a tantrum, as we grow older, most of us find other more subtle ways to express our powerfulness or powerlessness. We adapt, learn coping mechanisms, how to persuade, manipulate, or capitulate when necessary. These tools, these learned adaptations, give a sense of control. They make us feel more in charge of our destiny. As a result, our maturing self generally feels indestructible, immortal. Life is a long, golden road of futures for the young.
This was not the case for me. I learned very early on when I started having seizures that I was not fully in charge of the world, my world, specifically of my body. There are many different types of epileptic seizures. Often a person with the illness may have more than one type. That has been the case for me. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy—with a seizure type now referred to as "Absence seizures"—when I was four years old. I have seen neurologists and taken medications ever since. As often happens, the condition worsened when I entered puberty and I started having convulsions as well—what most people think of when they think of epileptic seizures. The clinical name is generalized "Tonic-clonic" seizures.
In such a seizure the entire brain is involved, rather like an electrical circuit that has gone out as a result of a power surge. I lose consciousness, my whole body becomes rigid, the muscles start jerking uncontrollably, and I fall. Tonic-clonic seizures, also known as "grand mal" seizures, may or may not be preceded by an aura, a type of perceptual disturbance, which for me can act as a warning of what is coming. The seizure usually only lasts for a few minutes, but I feel its draining effects for a day or two afterwards. Although I would prefer to sleep all day after such a physically and emotionally taxing event, I have often just gotten up off the floor and, within hours, gone back to work. It was necessary sometimes, though definitely not medically advised. I'm fond of saying that having a grand mal seizure is rather like being struck by a Mack truck and living to tell the tale.
Having Epilepsy has forced me to be dependent on others throughout my life. While we are all dependent upon others to some degree—independent, interdependent, dependent—in my case a deep level of dependency was decreed and ingrained very early on. This enforced dependency did not sit well with my native self. I bucked and rebelled. At the same time, a part of me also feared the next fall, the next post-convulsive fugue. And so I recognized, I acquiesced to the need to depend on others.
The silver lining of having Epilepsy is that it has introduced me to and taught me a bit about the nature of being powerless—and experiencing betrayal. I could not trust that my body would always operate as it should. Routinely, it suddenly quits. I experience this as betrayal by my brain and body. It results in my complete powerlessness throughout the convulsion. Not to mention an inconvenient interruption of any activities or plans I might have made.
Hence, I am the recipient of two important life lessons—and I was blessed to have this very specific and graphic experience at a young age. It made me observant and reflective, giving me the opportunity to consider what/where/who "I" was. I knew I was not "just" my body, or even my brain.
So, who or what did that leave? Who, what am I? Much has been written about trauma, and about near-death experiences, both of which seizures have been classified or described as. I won't delve into that here except to say that experiencing recurrent seizures and the attendant altered states of consciousness that sometimes accompany an episode (the euphemism for a seizure) changes one. It deeply affects you. It is both illuminating and frightening. It opens you up in some ways and can close you way down in others. For me it made it easy to consider the possibility of other ways to perceive, of other realms. And as an adult I became interested in quantum physics, where Science is pushing and challenging our long-held perceptual assumptions. Me, who was poor in math and disinterested in Science while in school! So if not merely body and brain, who am I? Spirit. And with Epilepsy's tutelage, I was encouraged to question, seek, try to understand what lies beyond.
Living with Epilepsy has also given me great strength. In realizing the futile nature of trying to have "power over" Epilepsy, I developed a deep well of "power within"—that inner strength that comes in the acceptance of that which one cannot change—and looking beyond it.
Through my experience building the business of Jogbra with the unique lens afforded me by my Epilepsy partner, I came to understand more fully the nature of power and what it means to be truly powerful.
Specifically, that having power and exercising it is not simply a manifestation of the ego. It need not be "power-tripping." It is how I wield my power that matters, making the all-important distinction between creating a situation of power over, power with, or empowering and having and creating strength in oneself and others.
Being powerful is a big responsibility.
To put all this another way: do I choose to create situations in which I am able to wield power over others? Or do I choose to empower others, sharing my strengths with them, while nurturing their strengths as well? The first is not true power. It is control. The second I believe to be the essence of true and positive power: strength. And integral to creating a more harmonious world, oh by the way.
While this may be apparent, even basic to others, it was an "aha!" moment for me. Too often in the years ahead I would give away my power and question my own strengths,. Time and again, however, my inner strength, my shadow teacher's gift, helped me survive and thrive until I could take responsibility for and embrace more fully my own power.
© Lisa Z. Lindahl 2019