Lead with happiness and the rest will follow.
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Up until a few years ago, it was kind of a general belief of mine that, I’ll do this and then I can relax. I’ll get here and then I’ll be content. I’ll do this and then I’ll be happier. I’ll achieve this and then I’ll be more confident. Especially in transitioning out my soccer career. I had thoughts like -
I’ll lose the weight I’ve gained post soccer and then feel more confident, I’ll get toned fatless abs, like I did while playing, and then feel happier with my body. I’ll find my person, my partner, and then I’ll be more content, happier, at ease. I’ll find a great job post sports career aligned with my real passions, and then I’ll just be happier. I’ll score this promotion and then feel more confident at work.
You know what I learned?
It doesn’t work that way. Because once you lose the weight, you still find things to pick at about your body. Once you find that relationship, you find new things to worry about (is this my person? are we moving too fast? too slow? what if it doesn’t work out?). Once you get that promotion, you feel satisfied for a little while, but then eventually find yourself yearning for more.
These statements, these beliefs I had, all rest on the model of - IF I succeed or achieve X, then I’ll be or receive Y.
If I get that promotion, then I’ll be satisfied, I’ll be happier.
Once I find that life long partner, then I can really relax, then I’ll be happier.
Once I lose the weight, then I’ll be more confident, happier.
After I follow this strict eating plan, I’ll have the body and the confidence I could possibly want.
Once I find that job that fulfills me AND pays the bills, I’ll feel happier.
If I succeed in this OR if this happens, then I’ll be happier, AND/OR more confident AND/OR at ease.
But it just doesn’t work that way.
I was listening to a great podcast on Super Soul Oprah, where Shawn Achor talks about the research behind success and happiness. Most people believe, and are telling themselves, if I succeed in life (whether it’s getting a promotion, a house, relationship, great body), then I’ll be happier overall.
His and others clinical work in positive psychology proves that it’s actually the exact opposite. Instead of success bringing happiness, happiness actually brings success. Pause.
The COOLEST part of it all is that, although each person is born with a different baseline level of happiness, we can literally change our happiness levels. It’s been scenically proven.
How amazing is that? And It’s so aligned with what I’ve been working on the past few years, but 2017 in particular. Leading with happiness. Leading with your heart.
Before I talk about about how to increase your happiness, I want to note that being happy in life doesn’t mean we are happy ALL of the time. In fact, Mr. Shawn Achors discusses how being happy ALL the time is actually a disorder.
As normal human beings, we still experience contrast, unhappiness, frustration, anger. But our general baseline level of happiness can increase. We can feel lighter, happier OVERALL.
I also want to note that I’m not saying we should fake it until we make it, per say. We don’t want to pretend to be happy if we aren’t feeling happy. We don’t want to cover up unhappy feelings, resisting them, not feeling them, because that ultimately works against us in our mission to increase our general levels of happiness. As Tara Brach would say, one of my favorite meditation and psychology guru’s, we can still smile while making room for other emotions that are there. More on that in another podcast.
What I am saying is that we can increase our general levels of happiness. Period.
And what’s amazing, is that instead of trying to achieve happiness by living within strict iIF and THEN statements (if I do this, then I’ll be happier), we can lead more with our hearts. And when we lead with our heart, that’s when the magic happens. You find pretty awesome alignment with what genuinely serves you, and things just happen. That confidence you’re seeking comes. That relationship just happens. That love of yourself develops.
What do I mean by lead with your heart?
I mean, FOLLOW your heart, follow what feels aligned and good with your true self. It’s not what your inner child wants, your ego, but what genuinely serves you. THEN success in losing weight, finding that fulfilling career, finding that partner, will all follow.
How do I lead with my heart?
It means accessing your truth. Understanding what genuinely serves you. To identify and follow your intuition. It’s not what your inner child, your ego, wants, but what your true self wants.
It takes practice to consistently lead with your heart.
And it's not black and white. It's grey, like life. You won't get it perfect every time. And that's okay. That's normal.
There are 3 ways you can practice leading with your heart that I want to offer up. Pick one to try today! And then keep practicing. It gets easier and easier the more you do it, I promise.
#1 Practice accessing your intuition. How do you do this? I’m going to give you two ways:
If you’re telling yourself you don’t know what you really want to do in a situation, ask yourself the magic question: WHAT IF I DID KNOW? I don’t know if I want to go on my friend’s birthday trip. What if I did? I don’t know how to reduce my stress about work. What if I did?
Another way you can access your intuition is by meeting your 80 year old self. I use this one ALL the time. It’s a great visualization you can do (look for the Meet Your Guru podcast). Your 80 year old self becomes your guru, your intuition, to whom you can ask questions. Do I really not want to do this or am I afraid of what will happen when I put myself out there? (whether it be going on a date, producing a podcast, interviewing for a new job)
#2 Get in touch with your heart. Journal - what are you grateful for? Write down 3 new things every day (research has actually shown this will increase your levels of happiness). What makes your heart overflow with gratitude? What’s meaningful to you about your current life, whether it be experiences, people, or things?
#3 Get physical - what does it physically feel like to lead with your heart? What does it physically feel like to have a heart overflowing with gratitude? What does it physically feel like to do an activity meaningful and aligned with your truest intentions and self? Write down the physical sensations, including:
Physical sensation (movement, etc)
For example: warm, calm, fills my whole chest, seeping into other parts of my body, tingling, light red and pink.
By really exploring how the sensation physically feels in our body, we can more easily identify when it’s happening, when we are leading with our heart, and when we aren’t.
And those are it. Those are three ways you can lead with your heart. Pick one to practice today! Leading with your heart means increasing your overall happiness, and ultimately leads to success. It’s scientifically proven now.
And with that, I want to leave you with a question - how are you going to lead with your heart today?