I’ve been married for quite a while (26 years, and counting).
Before I got married, I remember thinking the secret to a meaningful life and a good marriage is being happy. I also remember thinking that I was pretty young and probably relatively shallow. I was right!
Now, 26 years later, as I muse about what gives life meaning, I believe the secret is the idea of intentionally looking for happiness. While my marriage, like everyone’s, is a journey with many potholes along the way, I think what has helped me to (mostly) enjoy it is my belief that happiness matters.
At some point, both my husband Mike and I decided to pay attention to and place a high value on occasions of happiness rather than on occasions of disappointment or hurt. We each decided to assume that each of us was acting in good faith and with good intent, even when the other was royally screwing up.
Is yard work trivial or sexy?
I distinctly remember the day I made a big deal out of Mike’s announcement that he had mowed the lawn. In a flash of insight I realized I had a choice: I could dismiss his announcement as trivial or I could tell him that he and his arm muscles looked sexy as he pushed the mower.
I chose the latter. Yes, I was joking, but in that moment a truth came to light: happiness is available when we look for it. The value and implications of Mike’s mowing the lawn lay entirely in how I chose to view it.
Business is like a marriage
You are in business, whether you work for yourself or for others. And being in business is like being married. You get out of the relationship what you put into it.
If you regard your business as a necessary evil, you’ll find plenty to dislike. It will be easy, even natural, to give power to negative thoughts. And the vicious cycle of discontent will perpetuate itself.
When you decide that you and your business could be happy together, the relationship changes dramatically. You begin to look at where your gifts and resources can serve your business and vice versa. Instead of asking why business and work is such a drag, you start looking for crumbs of joy.
And where there are crumbs, there can be cookies!
When you look in the direction of happiness in your business, the more responsive you will be to the needs of your business and the more appreciative you will be of how your business enables you to do the work you love. You’ll be more creative and willing to be bold. You’ll naturally give power to random positive thoughts. It’s a virtuous circle, and it begins with the decision to be happy.