In part 1 of this How to Find Happiness post, I shared that last year was one of my happiest years, and that there were two reasons why, the first 'Secret' - Get In Step with Your Preferences.
Getting in step with your preferences means to:
spend time doing what most energizes you. More energy and feeling better is an indication that you are 'on track' with your purpose.If you're living a life that is tune with what motivates and inspires you, your intrinsic motivations, life feels on purpose, fulfilling and happy.
You see - you were born with special and specific gifts and interests that you want to use in your life. When you are using your gifts you feel energized and excited. I believe that the rise in energy and excitement you feel when you follow your preferences is Guidance from The Universe/God - letting you know that this action (whatever it is) is good and right for you.
Here's a recent example of something I observed in a retail shop last weekend. My husband and I were at a frame shop to get an artist's print framed. The manager of the store was low key, reserved and appeared unfriendly, at first.
Once he realized we needed his help selecting the best look for our print, and that we were open to his feedback, his shift in energy was palpable. It was amazing to see how excited and animated he became as he started selecting different mat and frame options that would make our print even more beautiful.
This initially quiet and reserved young man became expressive and energized as he contemplated and compared 'millions' of different options for the very best look, with an artists' eye.
While I was glad that our print was going to be beautifully framed, but since artistry is not MY soul's purpose, I found myself eager for him to finish!
While I'm not overly interested in art and design, I loved seeing his shift in energy, and analyzing that. Now THAT IS one of my top preferences!)
Since we were there 'forever' (just kidding), I asked him about his background. He'd been to culinary school and jobs were scarce right now. He said that he was surprised at how much he liked the framing business. I pointed out the his artistic interests were being used at the frame shop too.
My guess is that his personal key for how to find happiness, one of this top preferences (motivators), would be high Aesthetic, which is a passion for focusing on how things look and feel. (See a list of the top six motivators, here.)
He'll continue to find happiness in his career, as long as he can use these interests in his work.
My strongest personal key for my preferences is both learning (Theoretical) and business (Utilitarian.) A passion for ideas, learning, knowledge and business.
On page 1, I mentioned that this past year was my happiest year ever. Guess what I did last year more than ever before? Learn and make money and is has to have been one of best years!
I would guess that my mom, based on what I know about the assessment and her interests, is probably an extreme example of the Aesthetic. This is a strong, strong, strong desire for balance, artistic expression, self growth and harmony. I wonder if she'd immersed herself in her art and in self development, following her own how to find happiness key, if her mood swings would have been less severe.
The Workplace Motivators assessment, developed in the early 1900's, is focused on helping us all find what energizes us the most.
It's based on the fact that we each have our own specific gifts, world views and preferences that can serve as our own personal guide on how to find happiness.
Our preferences are influenced by nature (we're born with certain interests, talents and drives) and by nurture (we're influenced by our environment to embrace or reject certain interests and drives).
The different degrees of interest we have within each of the six intrinsic motivations, soul self areas, will determine what energizes us AND what aggravates and bores us:
If you want to Get In Step with Your Preferences: Pay attention to what activities energize you. Set your life up so you can do more of what interests you. Also, contact us to take the Talent Insights Assessment, a customized report on your top interests and strengths.
If you ever ride the London Underground subway system, you'll notice that when a train arrives at the station you'll hear an automated announcement to: "Mind The Gap"
This is a warning to remind you to pay attention to the gap between the platform and the car, if you don't, you could fall.
Closing the gaps is about paying attention to gaps in your thinking, your focus, daily actions and conversations.
Here's an example of someone who appears to NOT pay attention to the gaps. My neighbor is an attorney with two small children. She's just returned back to work and is trying to juggle it all, and is often frustrated. Every time I've seen her over the last 6 months she's shared how overwhelmed she is and how she hates getting up early, "I'm a night person, you know. This getting up early is making me crazy. This is so hard. I'm tired. The kids are driving me crazy. Work is nuts..."
Her state of overwhelm is understandable. It can be more than challenging to raise small children and have a career. But because she's not managing the gap, she's making the inner tension greater by constantly beating the drum (talking about) her frustration.
Her gap between what she wants and where she wants to be getting bigger. She seems to look and feel worse every time I see her. The life she intended for herself is not happening. Minding the gap is NOT ignoring how you feel - it's more than okay for my neighbor to vent. Heaven knows I vent too.
But if you're focused on wanting to feel good, on how to find happiness and how to love your life, at some point you'll awaken to the fact that you can choose to be miserable, continuing to vent and complain, or you can try to start looking at things in different way.
If we stay focused on closing the gaps, over time, little-by-little, we'll move closer our own answers for how to find happiness.
"Happiness is not something that happens.
It is not the result of good fortune or random chance.
It is not something that money can buy or power command.
It does not depend on outside events, but rather how we interpret them.
Happiness, in fact is a condition that must be prepared for,
cultivated, and defended privately by each person.
People who learn to control inner experience
will be able to determine the quality of their lives,
which is as close as any of us can come to being happy."
Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Here's another example of something we all face every day: Yesterday I went to my UPS store to mail a few packages. As usual, I was in a hurry. In front of me were five people, the computers were acting up and the good folks behind the counter were frustrated.
In that moment I could have complained to the guy next me, sighed deeply and stomped my feet as I got more and more aggravated. This reaction would be making the gap between what I wanted (a fast UPS experience) and what I had (a slow UPS experience) bigger, thereby increasing my inner tension and stress.
Or I could (there are a lot of options): take a few breathes to relax myself; choose to come back later; redirect my thoughts; balance my checkbook; have a friendly talk with the person standing in line with me. There are many lower the resistance options available to us all IF we're paying attention to and choosing to close the gaps.
That's also what happened for me last year, more than ever before I spent more time closing the gaps, than widening the gaps. I felt less resistance and more inner harmony. That's how I had my best year ever.
Sometimes when I'm making the gap bigger around something that seems like it's out of my control, I think about kids in car seats.
Sometimes when I'm making the gap bigger around something that seems like it's out of my control, I think about kids in car seats. Car seats are the law. When in a car, children of certain ages need to be in a car seat. When in the car seat they can be miserable or they can distract themselves, and enjoy the ride. Same rule, but different decisions.
One is minding the gap, creating more inner harmony and less resistance. The other is making the gap bigger, and creating less inner harmony and more resistance.
The car seat analogy reminds me that even when there are things I have to do, things that appear to be beyond my control, I can fight it and be miserable or choose to relax.
The bottom line in how to find happiness is: follow your preferences, do more of what energizes you and pay attention to the closing gaps, not widening them!