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5 Simple Rules for Living a Life of Happiness

One of the greatest feelings you can possess is happiness. When you are happy, people want to be around you. It’s a simple attraction principle; when you are happy, you attract other happy people. Happiness can spread quickly and is very contagious when gratitude, generosity, and positivity are added to your relationships.

Hundreds of studies have been conducted on the positive effects and health benefits of being happy. It’s hard to argue with the facts, a happy you equals a healthy you. Although I have always considered myself a happy person personally, as I have developed my professional life as well, I have discovered that the happier I am, the more successful my business became too.

Here are five rules to help you live a life of happiness:

1. Don’t take life so seriously.

As I was growing up my dad would always have to remind me that worrying about things that are outside of my control was harmful to my attitude and ultimately challenging my ability to be happy. Plus, I had no control so I should stop worrying. He’d continue by saying that worrying about something within my control was not needed since I had the ability to fix the problem by taking action. Our time on this earth is limited, it’s extremely important to make the most of it while we are here. Look at life as a dress rehearsal, even if we mess up our lines, we can stop, take some advice from the experts that support us and guide us through it, and get back to the show.

2. Define for yourself what success means.

Don’t let others define what success means to you. Success to you might be a filled bank account, fancy automobiles and material items. To others it might mean free time, lots of family gatherings and plenty of staycations. Professionally, success to me means working for myself, never having to hire staff and creating my own products and services. Personally, it means loving and being loved while enjoying the time I have in this lifetime. Someone else might define success as being CEO of a Fortune 500 company, having hundreds of staff members and having a corporate Amex card. You have the ability to make your own goals, dream your own dreams and define what success means to you.

3. You have an unlimited amount of do-overs

About 40 years ago, my brother and I would play ping pong in our rec room. To the right of the ping pong table stood a rubber tree plant. When the ball either hit the rubber tree plant or came too close to make a return shot, we’d yell “DO-OVER!” As an adult we have unlimited do-overs. As your professional career evolves, if you don’t like the direction you are going, take a do-over. Nearly 3 years ago, at 48, I decided to take a professional do-over, reinventing my professional life to where it is today as an author, speaker and business consultant. I have never been happier in my life and while there have been some very scary moments, it has also proven to be one of the most rewarding directions I have ever gone, making me extremely happy.

4. Worry less about what they think.

Who the heck is they anyway? And honestly, until they are paying my bills and living my life, “they” don’t know what is best for me. I get to define my happiness and determine what life is all about for me. What it really comes down to is this: you have to deal with the consequences of your actions and “they” get to walk away. There will always be a court of public opinion and you will never be able to please all of the people in that court, so you may as well make decisions and take action based upon what works best for you and not “them.”

5. Play by your own rules.

There is nothing worse than a static policies and procedures manual. Sure, there are some rules that are very important to follow. I usually put them into the category of common sense. Rules like, “Don’t harass your coworkers,” or, “Physical or verbal bullying will not be tolerated and subject to termination.” People breaking these rules need to get a life and should actually try to harness that negative energy into something positive, lasting, and beneficial to the human race. Happiness is created by treating others fairly, doing what feels right, making a positive impact on the planet and by following what you are passionate about.

When I originally sat down to write this blog, I was challenged by the idea of creating a set of rules pertaining to making rules for your life. Use these rules as guidelines and suggestions. Keep in mind, these are the rules that apply to my life and are “serving suggestions” for you. If you don’t like them, get your own set of rules and start getting your happy on, today. I know it will be worth it and will ultimately, make you very happy.

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We are all in the PR business!

We are all in the P.R. business. That’s because we are all in the business of People and Relationships. Don’t get confused, or think just because your company sells office supplies that you are in a business of staplers and ink. If you are a part of the insurance business, your company does far more than collect premiums and pay out benefits. And, if you sell cars, you are definitely not in the business of selling transportation. You are in the business of people and relationships, and without them, your business will fail.

When you get approached by a customer looking for you to solve a problem, regardless of whether you sell pencils, health benefits or vehicles, they first look at you as a person. At initial glance, your customer is sizing you up, trying to determine if they trust you and if they do, should they follow your advice. If you deal with people over the phone, you are being judged by your tone, the speed at which you are speaking and your volume level. The words you say, the body language you share and information you offer are all under a microscope. Regardless of being face to face with a customer, over the phone or via email (which has its own set of challenges), you are being judged. Customer thought bubble, “Do I trust this person, do I like this person, will he give me the right advice?”

I’m a newbie to bird watching. Let me rephrase that, I have a bird feeder and it needs seed every few weeks; not because I have birds that come to get their seed on, but rather, because I have a squirrels that really enjoy eating bird food, and a few birds that like to watch the squirrels . When it comes to purchasing bird/squirrel food, I have two choices very close to my house. Choice one - Walmart Supercenter. Choice two - Mother Nature, local specialty shop. While I am a guy that likes to watch my pennies, I am also a guy that loves a great buying experience. The cashiers at my local Walmart are nice enough and they do their job well, but I love the experience of walking into Mother Nature far more. The woman that runs the place is always talking to two or three customers that have gathered at the counter or she is running around the store restocking the shelves. This woman is like a human humming bird. When I have a chance to speak with her, I feel good about my purchase and she makes me feel like I am the only customer in the world. Yes, there are times when Walmart bird department gets my business, but it has nothing to do with the pleasing conversation and good vibes I get when I head over there.

Your business is about pleasing people, even if you never see a single customer in the course of your day. Even if you never speak to a customer on the phone. I would go so far to say that even if your company doesn’t sell a single product, you are still in the people and relationship business. You cannot exist in a vacuum, just like you cannot exist in our society without people. The sooner your staff, co-workers and (even) you realize how important building relationships really is to your business, the sooner you will have a business that is thriving in the market place. The part most people have trouble wrapping their heads around is that even one person in the workplace can create a difference. An amazing customer experience can be flushed down the tubes by a cashier who doesn’t smile or keeps her head down. A huge purchase and weeks of investigation and contracts can be undone in 15 seconds by a customer service rep having a bad morning. We need each other, and it is essential that we build each other up, keep perspective on what other people are dealing with in their lives and know that the frame of mind we are in and our actions affect others. It is not what you say, it’s how you say it.

Our businesses are all built on a foundation of people helping other people. Relationships are the mortar that holds it all together. We are not in the business of products and services. We are in the business of people and relationships. Keep that in mind the next time you say, “How can I help you?”

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5 actions for winning daily

We all have 24 hours in a day to accomplish, what seems to be an impossible mission: finish everything on our plate, juggle our workload, handle tasks, react to emergencies and resolve crises as they are hurled at us.

Additionally, we need to be fair to our families and not give them the "leftovers." At a minimum we must handle family politics, help with dinner, attend our kid's soccer game, aid with homework and handle the household finances. All the while, we want to be a caring and sensitive spouse. And let's not forget, we deserve a bit of time to ourselves as well. Not such an easy mission.

We go through this exercise every day, for months (or maybe even years) on end. How do we ever remain sane as we bounce from crisis to crisis, fully intending to get everything done, but never being able to get caught up? Many days, we aren't even given a chance to show up at work or home before detours reroute us. Text messages, emails, Facebook posts and other forms of technical gadget and gizmo messaging have a way of reprioritizing our day. So how can we stay in control?

I have developed a list of 5 daily actions that will put you on a winning path to success. In order for these to work you will need to be consistent about following them. And if you connect the dots from day to day and form new habits, you will gradually see your weeks and months getting easier as well.

  1. Plan your day. It is essential that you give yourself time in the morning to plan your day. Some days this will take 5 minutes and other days much longer. Failing to plan is planning to fail. You must determine what your goals are for the day. These goals should include both your business and personal life. Plan what you hope to accomplish, big picture, for the day. (Complete the accounting project, get to the gym, have lunch outside the office, get the oil changed in the car). Your plan should be written down, and reviewed many times throughout the day.

  2. Write down your to-do list and prioritize what must get done today. Take your plans (goals for the day) and bullet point the actions needed to accomplish them. If you have something date sensitive or essential for getting done today, that needs to go to the top of the list. Priorities are just that, priorities. Once your task is complete, cross it off the list. Have a small private party in your head. Congratulations are in order when you accomplish a task. Now move on to the next task on your list. If you have leftover tasks at the end of the day, you will need to bring them over to tomorrow's to-do list. The key is to include these in your next morning planning session. Too many people have massive lists that grow and grow out of control. Once out of control, people usually stop writing down goals and to-do lists. Don't let that be you. Stay in control. (Side note: when inspiration strikes in the shower, my waterproof AquaNotes pad is suction cupped to the tiles. www.myaquanotes.com)

  3. Recognize what is small stuff and what is big stuff. Your co-worker sending you a YouTube on effective meeting techniques may be good to watch, but not right now. You've got a list of priorities and YouTube lessons are not one of them. Your accounting system crashing is probably a priority if you work in the I.T. Department. These two examples would be easy for you to categorize as small stuff versus big stuff, but many things thrown at you during your day will not be. It is critical that you understand what and who take priority during your day. If your boss is part of the problem because he derails you every time you are on track to accomplish a task or goal, you must have a sit down with him and discuss a "better way." You must learn the art of saying "No."

  4. Remember to give thanks and appreciation to those around you. Co-workers, family members and friends need love too. To-do lists and priority schedules are not very touchy, feely things. They include the cold hard facts. Gratitude, thanks and appreciation go a long way in reducing future tasks lists. People want to help people they love and you will develop a following of people that want to help you when your hands are filled. Showing appreciation is not only good for the recipient, it's good for the giver as well.

  5. Keep balance in your life. Without balance you have nothing. What's good about having an amazing business and a growing bank account if you have no one to share it with or no time to enjoy the fruit of your labor. Learn when to turn off the computer, put the phone down or simply take a nap. Life is about enjoying a balance between mind, body and soul at work and play.

I am confident that all of my points above are points you have heard before. I have read about them, studied them, practiced them and have taught them for decades. There is a difference, however, between reading them and actually doing them. I had a friend in business many years ago that said, "To know, and not to do, is not to know." If you are out of control with your day, you are probably out of control with other parts of your life as well. You will find that when you are in control, you are happier and more pleasant. People will want to be around you more when you are happy. Take the steps needed to get in control. Control equals winning. I, for one, want to see a happier, more balanced and more in control, winning, successful you. Wouldn't you agree?

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Find Your Happy Place, It's Never Too Late

We've all been there at one time or another. Fighting traffic, arguing with a loved one, getting slammed by a client or the boss, or just having a plain old ugly day. Bigger picture -- dead end job or bad relationship? We have two options. Option one, stay in there, and wallow around in it, until we're good and ready to explode. Or option two, find a way to get out. Usually the former is a recipe for disaster if we work or live or breathe around anyone else; and they have their own problems to contend with. Adding insult to injury will probably get us in even deeper. The latter, getting out, can be done, but only if you can find your happy place. Do you have a happy place?

For most, the process of finding our happy place is a daunting task. It's the zone that exists in the six inches between our ears. My high school coach would yell at me "Sandler, get your head in the game!" And usually, he was right. My head was not in the game. As life progressed, the coach was replaced by a boss. The sideline banter was replaced by my manager's fired off email. It stated simply, "See me." Never a good sign.

I recently spoke at a technology and communications company's annual kickoff meeting. During the Q&A, a woman in the group said something I thought would be great to pass along. I'll paraphrase -- If you can't EMBRACE it, your best bet is to EXIT it. What is going on in your life that should be embraced? Maybe even more importantly, is there a part of your life that makes you want to run for the exit door? Life is too short, you deserve happiness, it's never too late, get your head in the game. Find your happy place.

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