A Whole Lotta Happy

By Silver Rose

A Whole Lotta Happy

My niece’s 5 year-old daughter has big, brown eyes, slightly curly brown hair, and a smile that would melt the polar cap. Her name is Kristina.

One of Kristina’s very best friends is her grandmother, my sister Karen. I called Karen on Saturday and (big surprise!) Kristina was with her. I could hear her little voice in the background, insisting on having the phone. She wanted to tell me how she had ridden on the handlebars of Grandma’s new bicycle (within the confines of the driveway with a soft lawn nearby, so please hold those letters about child safety!)

I asked Kristina if she had been afraid. Her response was music to my ears. “Hmm. No. I was a little bit afraid but mostly I was a whole lotta happy!”

This exposure to the simple joys of childhood got me thinking about what great teachers children are. They are completely and selfishly devoted to their own happiness. In later years, they’ll probably be taught, as most of us were, that selfishness of that sort is wrong. What a tragedy.

They’ll be taught to do things for other people even if they don’t want to. And that is where their troubles will begin.

As I travel the country, talking to managers and supervisors in my leadership courses, and to front-line employees in other workshops, I see an increasing amount of evidence that much of the happiness and dissatisfaction in the workplace is displaced anger about what is happening in people’s personal lives. This is precisely why I named one of my courses, It’s Work, NOT Group Therapy! In that workshop, people learn how to handle emotions in the workplace and to identify which problems are outside issues.

Managers and supervisors, who feel out of control in their homes, become iron-fisted at work. Workers who feel “put upon” by friends and relatives in their personal lives, become rebellious at work. And all miss the opportunity to enjoy the moment.
Over the years, I’ve coached many people. I can tell you, without question, that issues we don’t deal with in our personal lives have a major, negative impact on our effectiveness at work.

So let’s talk for a moment about the personal issues people struggle with. Many of the problems we face in our personal lives happen because we’ve decided the happiness of someone else is much more important than our own. There is a word for this in the dictionary – – “martyrdom.”

For example, an area I’ve personally struggled with is how much to do for my kids. My two girls came to me as teenaged foster children with extremely sad histories. I wanted to fix it all – to make them so happy they would be almost glad they’d been foster kids because it resulted in such a great life! A happy ending! Pass out the tissues.

I did too much for them. Even though it made my life difficult financially, I still did things for them because I wanted so much to heal them – to give them some modicum of happiness via “neat stuff.” Of course, it didn’t work and it made me as miserable as they felt.

Now I am trying to model for them selfishness. I want them to be completely devoted to their own happiness because I’ve come to understand that, when we are happy, good things happen to and for us. The Law of Attraction says, “You attract what you focus on” or “You attract what you are.”

The question I now ask myself before doing something for others (and feel free to steal it) is, “Will this make me happy or am I doing it because I want to make them happy?” If it’s only for them, I don’t do it.

Doing something for others because you “should” is like giving a gift so reluctantly, it has claw marks on it. Who wants that?!?

There are many things I do for others that appear to be of more benefit to them than I, but I do them because it makes me happy. And I selfishly want to be happy.

Become selfish enough to do for others only when it fills you with joy. Stop doing things grudgingly. Give up the martyr role. I promise your relationships will improve dramatically (martyrs are a pain, don’t you think?)

And you will experience a “whole lotta happy.”