There is an interesting phenomenon that happens when it comes to happiness–we attribute it to the fact that everything is going well.
When I work with leaders, I often hear them say things like, “I’m feeling really good today. We got the monthly numbers and the team is doing really well.” Naturally, I wondered what the rest of the month was like for them. Did they wander around sulking and displeased with life until they saw the end of month metrics?
Of course we enjoy life when everything works out as we planned. This is normal. It would be a little strange if we said that we preferred to have things constantly falling apart around us and wanted as much unrest as possible. We seem to prefer to experience a life of pleasure and ease.
So when we can change our conditions to create more of that, it seems like a good idea to do so. If I’m cold, putting on a sweater would be a compassionate thing to do for myself. If my team is struggling to hit their monthly targets, it might be a good thing to do to take actions to improve morale and reinforce the strengths that they together possess.
The real issue arises though when we are feeling as though we are dependent on everything going our way, and in the meantime waiting for the happiness to arrive. Because if you’ve paid attention to your actual experience, you know that we don’t control the events of our lives all that much.
Planes don’t take off on time, people show up late, and the faucet stops running hot water, all despite our best efforts to plan our day. And when those unpleasant moments arise, we immediately fall prey to them. “Ugh, my day is ruined!” we exclaim. Or more commonly, “I’ll be happy when…” This is a very difficult way to live.
It is a desperate place to make choices from. When we are living with the “if only,” we make our choices from a place of resistance. We are resisting the reality of what is occurring, and attempting to hold on to a reality that doesn’t exist. We are simply reacting to feeling good, or feeling bad based on the thing that is occurring at the moment. This doesn’t mean that we need to deny that things aren’t as we may prefer. It does mean, though, that until we get with the reality of things as they are or at least accept what is happening, we will choose anything to avoid our experience. Which means we won’t truly be able to access our wisdom.
For example, maybe the monthly metrics aren’t looking so stellar. But instead of reacting to them out of the fear that they may stay that way forever, your inner wisdom reminds you that there are ebbs and flows to business. You are aware of the rhythm of your business and you also see that there can be some great opportunities for your team to regroup and capitalize on some of the projects that had been lagging. In other words, you don’t panic.
You also recognize that you can be happy and at peace and the business may not be running perfectly all at the same time. One is no longer dependent on the other. And now, you can say that you are happy because you are breathing, you are alive, and that you have some amazing things you are working on. And that is a much easier way to live.
The Leadership Weekly
Weekly wisdom from the DS Leadership Life team.