With MEC’s “Inspire Happiness” course coming to a close, I want to take a moment to reflect on my journey. While my days remain extremely busy as I balance both my career and personal obligations, I have graduated not only with a new set of tools and techniques to apply to my everyday life, but also a new outlook of the meaning of happiness. When I started this course, I thought happiness was something that was directly correlated to an event, something that we couldn’t control.
After the weeks I spent with Helen Mumford Sole, I now recognize that we can manage our own happiness levels — it’s all in how we approach life’s decisions and challenges.
As a recap, I leave you with key learnings from MEC’s happiness training course:
1. Happiness is a choice. It is not something that you are born with, nor is it something that comes with success or as a consequence of our circumstances. It is merely a skill, like any other that can be managed and cultivated over time.
2. You can change your activities to maximize your happiness both now and later. By plotting how you feel both in the moment, as well as the future, you can open your eyes to the types of activities that truly bring you closer to your happy place.
3. Gratitude is a muscle that needs to be exercised. By thanking people in your life and taking the time to appreciate things big and small, you can greatly impact the way you feel.
4. Meditation (while very difficult for a Type A constant thinker and worrier like myself) is a practice that yields great benefits, like calming the mind and clearing space for happiness.
5. Becoming an optimist is possible, even if you consider yourself a realist (which truthfully is just a nicer name for a pessimist, something I once claimed to be).
6. Spending time focusing on the positives in the future and visualizing success can get you closer to where you want to go.
7. Don’t overthink happiness. It is more important to spend time adopting new behaviors and seeing a difference in how you feel; don’t focus too much on other people’s definitions of happiness.
While there’s definitely pressure on us all to delay our happiness to a future time when we’ll be less busy and more able to do those things that make us feel good, it’s important to face the truth that the world is never going to slow down. We have an obligation to ourselves to stop delaying happiness and start becoming familiar with it in our daily lives, both at work and at home, so that we are better prepared to achieve our goals.
If you walk away with one piece of advice from what Helen has imparted to me, it would be to keep a gratitude journal — write down five things each night for which you are grateful before going to bed. It doesn’t take long and has a huge impact on happiness, serving as a constant reminder of the things in our lives we should be grateful for and that we shouldn’t take for granted.
Really, try it and see what happens!
For Part 1, go here. For Part 2, go here. For Part 3, go here. For Part 4, go here. For Part 5, go here.
Karen Kwarta heads the Digital practice at MEC. She has been with the agency for over three years, and was previously a Group Director. Prior to her roles at MEC she was an Account Director at Razorfish. She has her BBA in Marketing from University of Michigan.