From 25 years of research, from 30 years of teaching, and from interviewing thousands of folks … from the top of the corporate ladder to those behind prison bars … I have an announcement to make. Life is NOT fair.
So there you have it. It’s official. Life is NOT fair.
Despite that somewhat depressing declaration, I also have some good news. There are several things you might be doing to screw up your life. I wrote about five of those things in last week’s “Tuesday Tip.” You’ve got to STOP doing those things.
But the good news is … there are some things you can do to experience more joy in life and work. Here they are.
=> 1. Decide to be happy.
After all, happiness is not something you own, an address you have, a title you possess, or a bank balance you crave. Happiness isn’t even a stage of life … whether that is single or married, young or old, working or retired, or even parenting versus empty nesting.
Happiness is NOT the consequence of something HAPPENING in your life.
Happiness is a decision you make … no matter what is going on in your life. You decide to be happy.
I’ll never forget the time when that lesson was first drummed into my mind. As a kid, I used to watch a TV show called “Truth or Consequences,” a show hosted by Bob Barker. And on occasion he would have unusual guests on his show.
On one show, his team found this old man who lived way back in the boonies of the Great Smokey Mountains. He had never been exposed to electricity, running water, the radio, television, or any other modern convenience. He not only lived without those things, he never even heard of those things. He was indeed living in another time period.
As Barker interviewed him, the audience laughed at his simple, naive answers, but they weren’t laughing at him but with him. He was so charming the audience couldn’t help but love him.
Finally, Barker said, “You seem so happy. You must have some wonderful secret of happiness. Please tell us what it is.”
The old man replied, “No, ain’t got no secret of happiness. I jest gets up every morning and figures I got a decision to make … to be happy or unhappy. And what do you think I do? I decides to be happy.”
The audience smiled and giggled. They may even have thought, “That’s easy for him to say. He doesn’t have all the pressures we have in our lives.”
But then I’m reminded of another person that no one would ever accuse of being naive or simple-minded. No one would ever say his life was stress-free and yet this man said the same thing as that old man on Bob Barker’s show. I’m talking about Abraham Lincoln. He declared, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
So I challenge you with this first point. DECIDE to be happy. And then…
=> 2. Fuel your passion.
Keep your passion alive … whatever you do. It may be your greatest competitive advantage in life and work.
Of course, you may be saying, “I don’t feel an awful lot of passion in my life right now. Life is tough and I’m just barely hanging on.”
Hey, we’ve all been there, but you don’t have to stay there. You can pump up your passion.
Try these ideas:
- Count your blessings. When times are tough, you may overlook or dismiss your blessings. But let me tell you, there are always lots of blessings all around you.
- Affirm yourself. Talk to yourself. Tell yourself such things as, “I am here to stay. I am here to make a difference. I am not giving up.”
- Let the past pass. Don’t waste your time on what you did or should have done. Learn from it and then let it go.
- Practice an attitude of gratitude. The more thanks you give, the more passion you’ll get.
- Accept yourself … warts and all. You know the old adage … that “God don’t make no junk.” It’s true. You have great value. It’s time you accept that fact.
=> 3. Practice resiliency.
Sooner or later, you and everyone else in life is going to experience some failures, disappointments, and setbacks. But the ability to bounce back from those challenging times is one of the keys to greater happiness and success … on and off the job.
So how can you do that? Simple. Just get up one more time than you fall down. No matter how many times life brings you to your knees, get up. You may try something new, or you may try something different, but keep on trying until you get the results you want.
And finally, for greater success and happiness, you’ve got to…
=> 4. Learn when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.
As you move through life, as you face challenges that test your patience, resolve, and commitment, you need to remember that you always have three choices. You can live, lobby, or leave.
You could decide to LIVE with your tough situation. Sometimes that’s the best option. Your work may be uninspiring or your boss may be disrespectful. But you may decide to live with it … for the time being … because there are no other jobs available right now … that really appeal to you.
Your second choice is to LOBBY for change. You may be having a difficult time with your spouse’s behavior, your customer’s attitude, or your company’s policies. So you could attempt to change your situation or your relationship. You could use your very best communication skills to bring about positive, productive change in your situation.
It’s one of the reasons many people attend my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program. They want to bring about some positive changes
That’s what Jeanne Swanson from Liberty Mutual took away from the Journey. She writes, “After a mere two weeks, I’ve already made two very important changes in my life. Using the affirmation process and 7-day attitude diet, my outlook, perspective, and energy levels have changed dramatically. And using the support-accountability network you outlined, I’m staying on track and making progress on all the goals I set at the Journey. I know that God has been working in my life, and now I know He gave me some tools to use. Thank you for this.”
If you don’t want to LIVE with your situation or will not LOBBY to change it, you could choose to LEAVE. It can be a valid option. Sometimes you’re in a situation where someone else is destroying your self-esteem, damaging your attitudes, or blocking your success in life and work. Leaving might be a wise and healthy option.
But let me offer one caution. Many people leave too quickly. Faced with a difficult person or a tough time, they split. Their patience runs thin or their tolerance runs dry. They leave marriages too quickly, quit jobs too rapidly, and change locations too often … thinking they’ll leave those problems behind … as they search for greener pastures somewhere else.
Yes, it may be possible to find greener pastures. Just make sure you’ve worked through all of your own problems before you move on to a new relationship or a new job. If you don’t, your old problems are sure to show up in your new situation.
In summary, the happiest people are the happiest for a reason … well, actually for four reasons. They have decided to be happy. They have learned how to keep their passion alive. They have learned how to be resilient. And they know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.