…a good book.  My good friend and client, Leon Janks, recently gave the book Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar to each of his nearly 100 team members and he was kind enough to give me a copy, too.  It turns out that Ben-Shahar is the teacher of one of Harvard’s most popular courses, Positive Psychology, and that his ideas for being happier are all very practical and his thoughts on the things that keep us from experiencing happiness truly hit home.  

What struck me most about the book, though, was that it came from a Managing Partner of one of INSIDE Public Accounting’s fastest growing firms who cares enough about the happiness of his people (and me!) to encourage his entire team to read the book to see what ideas could be garnered to elevate individual and corporate happiness.  Wow!  Talk about a focus on culture and people.

I was awakened (again) to several “big ideas” in reading Ben-Shahar’s book. I have to process some more to truly crystalize them so that I can share them in future blogs.  But one of them that I’m always wrestling with is the “old school” notion of subordinating happiness today (the pain) so that we can achieve something that will make us happier in the future (the gain) – a concept that Ben-Shahar terms being a “Rat Racer.” While Ben-Shahar doesn’t try to get us to stop investing in the future, he does point out that truly happy people strive to experience happiness during the effort as well as once the effort culminates to the achievement. 

I believe that this is one of the distinctions in behavior that I see with so many of the bright-faced, truly happy Millennials I meet.  While some established (mature) leaders would say that, “these kids don’t understand what it takes to get ahead” or “don’t value hard work,” I keep feeling like they DO, and that they’ll put forward enormous effort when they feel inspired to do so.  But what’s different about them is that they aren’t willing to subordinate happiness today (“grind it out”) for the hope of happiness tomorrow.  And, why can’t we have both? 

In so many ways, happiness is a chosen state of mind.  I’ve written about this before, in my January 2011 blog entitled Happiness Is Your Choice.  In it, I shared a list of ideas to help us in our quest to achieve happiness and positivity.  I encourage you to click back and read that list – because it turns out that a few of them mirror Ben-Shahar’s recommendations, including regular exercise and listing your blessings daily.  And, by all means, read Ben-Shahar’s book and begin to assess where you are in your happiness quest and what you can do to be happier.

What do you think of the happiness now or happiness later or striving for happiness and fulfillment in both concept?  What things bring you happiness in your daily life?  If you’ve read Ben-Shahar’s book, what were your takeaways?  We’d love to hear how you’re getting happier!