This time of year, we often hear the greeting "Happy Holidays." Are we really happy just because the holidays are here? Or is there a way to be happy all year long?
We are as happy as we decide to be. No one can tell us to be happy. Happiness is a state of mind.
Benjamin Franklin was concluding a moving speech on the guarantees of the Constitution when a heckler shouted out, "Aw, those words don't mean anything. Where's all the happiness you say it guarantees us?" Franklin smiled and calmly silenced his critic. "My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself."
That's why my friend Wally "Famous" Amos said, "Happiness is an inside job." By the way, Wally makes lots of people happy with his cookies!
I believe we were born to be happy. The happiest people I know are not the richest or most attractive or even the best at what they do. The happiest people are those who discover that what they should be doing and what they are doing are the same things.
That's because happiness doesn't come from just doing what you like -- it's from liking what you do. True happiness lies in satisfaction, which has nothing at all to do with how much money you make or how many people report to you.
I recently received an email from a reader who wrote, "Happy people achieve better results and are typically more successful." I like to say: Make it your business to be happy and your business will be happy.
As a customer, you can surely tell the difference between a business that practices happiness and one that exists merely to make money. Businesses that are serious about succeeding find ways to make customers happy. Why do you think McDonald's sells Happy Meals? What makes Disneyland the "happiest place on earth"? Certainly, happiness hasn't hurt their bottom lines.
So where do you start on a path to happiness in business and life in general? Here are 10 commandments, inspired by "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin (Harper Collins, 2009), that might improve your outlook if you strive to follow them daily:
-- Take it easy.
-- Be yourself.
-- Handle your responsibilities.
-- Exercise understanding.
-- Face your fears.
-- Leave your worries behind.
-- Live honestly.
-- Behave positively.
-- Open your heart and mind.
-- Share your time, attention and talents with others.
There is an ancient Native American legend about a little-known tribe that was constantly at war with other tribes. They abused their religion and their families, had no morals or feelings for others and laughed at any kind of order. The violent tribe seemed doomed to wipe themselves off the face of the earth.
It troubled the old chief to see his people self-destruct, so he gathered a few of his trusted warriors and held a council to discuss how they could save their tribe from themselves. The wise chief decided the only thing to do was to take the secret of happiness and success away from those who abused it. They would hide it where no one would ever find it again, but where?
One man suggested they bury the secret of happiness and success deep in the earth. But the chief said, "No, for man will dig deep down in the earth and find it."
Another said to sink the secret into the dark depths of the deepest ocean. But again the chief replied, "No, man will learn to dive into the dark depth of the ocean and will find it."
A third thought they should take it to the top of the highest mountain and hide it there. But again the chief said, "No, man will eventually climb even the highest of mountains and find it."
Finally the old chief had the answer: "Here is what we will do with the secret of happiness and success. We will hide it deep inside of man himself, for he will never think to look for it there."
And the chief was correct. To this day, according to that old legend, people have been searching all over the earth -- digging, diving and climbing -- searching for something that they already possess within themselves.
Lucky for you, you now know the secret.
Mackay's Moral: Happiness can be thought, taught and caught -- but not bought.