Applied Happiness

If you were told you could do a few simple things and be happier, what would you do?

A:  Say, “Is that so?  Tell me more?” and be open to giving it a shot?

– Or –

B:  Run like a scalded cat the other way?

It’s an important question.  How you answer it may be the difference between being alive and living.  We’ve seen both answers along the path to the Happy LIFE – a self-propelled journey into creating “happy habits” – that is starting to make the rounds to employees of companies who think like we do at Life University.  Perhaps predictably, their experience has been similar to ours at at LIFE U.

An esteemed colleague (translation:  He’s a VP and way above my pay grade but I like him and he’s always been great to work with), summarized our Happy LIFE implementation like this:  “All, here’s the truth for me.  Remembering to compliment people is a challenge for me.  After sending “gratitudes” through Happy LIFE, I now express my appreciation more. The program will sound kooky to some, but it works in at least one way for everyone.”

I’d have to agree with my esteemed colleague.  But, unlike him, I’d say I’m fairly fluent in the language of affirmation (I have to be in order to balance out all the snarky things I say to get a laugh; in fact, I’d add Sharing Laughter as the sixth love language).  That means that I love to notice things that I can genuinely compliment people about.  For those who’ve read Gary Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages,”* you’ll be familiar with Words of Affirmation as one of the five languages people use to express and receive love (and I’d say the same idea applies to kindness, too).

But, I digress.  What I found was this:  As a result of writing emails expressing appreciation for those who’ve made a real difference in my life, I’ve become less self-conscious about following my natural tendency to be complimentary.  Now, I don’t feel like a complete fool for complimenting even strangers if I happen to notice something I admire about them.  And, best of all, I’m finding that, even if a couple of the people I compliment make cracks or look at me like I’m deranged, most people seem pleased as punch to be complimented and thank me for it, often quite warmly.  It’s like we’ve just given each other gifts that are free and that fit perfectly – gifts we can wear in our hearts.

So, if some ol’ broad passes you on the street and says, “That color is perfect for you; everything you wear should include that color!” just believe her.  You look great.

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*Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages are:  1) Words of Affirmation, 2) Acts of Service, 3) Receiving Gives, 4) Quality Time and 5) Physical Touch.

The Real Lights of LIFE

I’ve confessed.  Yes, I am a recovering Grinch.  Where holiday hoopla is concerned, no, thanks – I’d just rather not.  But, as far as the meanings – the heart of the holidays – I do get that part.  And, I have my fellow members of the Life University (LU) community to thank for reinforcing the heart of what I’m going to call the “winter holidays” last December, also demonstrating they “got” the Happy LIFE, even before it became a “thing.”

 In the workplace, it’s especially important to recognize that not everyone comes from the same tradition.  The winter holiday, for the majority of Americans, is of course Christmas.  Other Americans and international residents of America honor traditions that include other winter holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid-el-Adha, and Bodhi Day (and all the others that I don’t even know enough to know that I don’t know about them).  And, pretty universally regardless of one’s holiday traditions, the end of the year is also a time for celebrating the completion of another year and reflecting on its events and how we lived them. 

 So, when we (the LU Staff Council) instituted a “Departmental Holiday Decorating Contest” (SUCH as catchy name, right?), the elements on which entries were judged were festiveness, inclusiveness, University exemplification (using LIFE and/or its values as a thematic element) and accomplishments (celebrating the departments’ top 1-3 accomplishments as another thematic element).  The contest, even though it was introduced on very short notice, turned out to be a big hit.  It also proved to be a real team building experience for the departments that were able to take up the challenge on such short notice.  This year, with more notice, the competition (and celebration) could be fierce (in a very good natured, Happy LIFE way, of course).

 But, we have to do something about that name!

 And, of course, I have a suggestion.  Here’s some background.  At Life University, we have a long-standing and pretty magnificent drive-through display of holiday decorations that is called, not surprisingly, “The Lights of LIFE.”  People from all over the Metro Atlanta region have been visiting the Lights of LIFE each winter holiday/Christmas season for decades now.  Even people (including me) who think they’re all Grinchy, are pretty impressed by it and, if visitors we’ve taken through it are any indication, will often laugh out loud at the fun they have driving through it. 

So, we already have a huge holiday decoration event going on each winter that is so cool  it has a “brand identity.”  Pretty much everyone in the area knows about the Lights of LIFE.  Still, even as impressively cool and fun as it is, the Lights of LIFE display is holiday hoopla.  More and more, I’m getting that the hoopla happens for very good reasons.  But, the REAL lights of LIFE are the people who make everything at the University happen, day in and day out.  They’re the people who care about each other, our students and our mission of preparing our graduates to create for themselves lives of success and significance – to be transformational leaders in a world desperately in need of change.  And, they’re the people who come to us as students, committed to becoming the change they want to see in the world.

 All of these people are the real Lights of LIFE – the Inner Lights of LIFE.*

 

* and that’s my suggestion for the departmental holiday decorating contest – other suggestions are welcome in the comments section.