It’s Time to Get Serious About Your Happiness

May 11, 2023

There’s a great quote by Jean-Paul Sartre: “We are our choices.”

When it comes to our happiness and our overall success in life, that’s truer than most realize.

Taking time to examine the choices you make in your life and working each day and over the long term to make sure they’re enhancing your well-being can do more than just make you happier. Working on enhancing happiness has actually been shown to have a tangible return on investment and can make you more successful.

Here’s one example from the business world…

According to positive psychology researcher Shawn Achor, if you are happy and you have happy people around you in your organization, you can improve your organization’s performance and productivity by anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent… and if your team is happier, you will take better care of your clients and have greater impact on them, which in turn will enable your team to do well financially!

With that in mind, here are steps for increasing your happiness in ways that will lead to better results in your work and in your personal life.

These come courtesy of Henry Miller, a truly exceptional trainer, coach, and consultant who helps companies and organizations improve their performance and productivity. He spent years analyzing the growing research on well-being and synthesizing it into his book “The Serious Pursuit of Happiness – an essential road map to greater happiness.”

Understand the Basics

Some people think they are predisposed to be happy or unhappy and “that’s just how it goes.”

Not so…

You can take steps to enhance your happiness and that of the people around you. Research using data from the Minnesota Twin Registry shows that around 50% of our happiness depends on our deliberate thoughts, attitudes, and actions (which is great news for those of you who assumed your level of happiness is hard-wired!).

To improve the drivers of happiness that are within our control, start with some basic ideas to guide you:

  • Happiness takes effort. Creating and enhancing happiness in your life, your family, and your workplace is just like any other major initiative you undertake… it requires time and effort to get up and running smoothly.
  • Happiness is a numbers game. The frequency of positive events in your life matters more than the intensity of those events. You’ll have better results if you boost the number of small positive moments in your day instead of trying to have just a few instances that are hugely positive.
  • Happiness is a habit. So, make it habitual! If you are not as naturally happy as other people, incorporate happy habits into your life while removing other habits.
  • Do more for other people. When you spend time doing things for other people and trying to make them happy, you actually end up happier than when you do things for just yourself.


Research has shown that basing your decisions on several imperatives will increase your happiness, such as:

  • Seek pleasure within limits. Real, lasting happiness doesn’t come by chasing lots of short-term pleasures. Happiness is not hedonism or doing your best to avoid all pain. The “high” experienced from short-term pleasures doesn’t tend to stick with us very long, and if you keep doing only those activities, the moments when you do feel down and out tend to overwhelm you.
  • Intentionally think happy. Avoid excessive self-focused rumination on the minutiae of your life. Focus on building resilience and taking control. A feeling of well-being arises when you do these things. There’s a quote often attributed to William James, the father of psychology: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their moods by altering their states of mind.”
  • Intentionally act happy. Expressing gratitude for the good things you have shuts down feelings of envy and jealousy that block your path to more happiness. If you buy yourself a “gratitude journal” and write in it every Sunday night, you can increase your happiness by 25%, and the positive effects can last for six months! Other happiness-building actions to consider include forgiving people who have wronged you, staying fit through exercise and diet, and getting enough sleep.

Speaking of sleep, I’ve always been someone who’s never required a lot of sleep. However, medical studies have been performed with results published in health journals, suggesting that sleep is actually more important than we realize. Alex and Sue Bush (owners/founders of Physique Development) have been quoted on their YouTube and Instagram pages, suggesting that, “Given a choice between getting in an extra hour of cardio, or getting an extra hour of sleep… take the sleep!”

Cultivate positive personality traits. Honesty, courage, perseverance, tolerance, and generosity all are universally seen as good character traits. Consider the best possible future for yourself as a person at home, at work, and at play. Imagine yourself in a future where everything has gone as well as it could go. What might your best possible self and best possible future look like?
Embrace deep connections. Close relationships are vital (and Facebook friends & watercooler buddies aren’t enough).

Plan and Act

I always finish every speaking engagement/presentation with the same Chinese proverb, and it goes like this:

“If you know… but you don’t act… then you don’t know.”

So ultimately, you need to act to achieve results. Here are three proven happiness-enhancing action steps you can start doing immediately.

  • Savor the future. Write a description of what your life will ideally look like five years from today (I’ve even written out “My Perfect Day” from what I do in the morning when I wake up – all the way till my head hits the pillow at night). Your vision of your ideal future will act like a beacon, drawing you to it. But don’t just take this step – also notice how it makes you feel when you envision a great future, and be sure to read it at least weekly. This is how you savor the future, and in doing so, you will elevate your positivity.
  • Express gratitude for your past. Think of someone who has positively impacted your life and whom you have never properly thanked. Write down what they did for you and all the ways you are thankful to them for what they have meant to you over the years. The mere act of writing this type of letter has been shown to boost levels of happiness. If you want to take it one step further, send the thank you to them. It’ll make you feel good for doing it, and I guarantee you, it’ll make their day (if not their month!).
  • Demonstrate love. That’s right, I said it. One of our (Donna and my) favorite bands is a group called Rebelution – a reggae band with a ton of positive lyrics and messages. In one of their songs, “Route Around,” the lead singer, Eric Rachmany says:

“Some people say to fight for everything you want,

But all I need is food, water, air, and love.”

Don’t get me wrong… success, money, choices – that’s all important. I own a financial advisory firm, so I get it! However, if you can muster up the guts to do so, go out immediately after reading this article and get a flower or card for someone you love and give it to them, saying, “Just because I was thinking about you and what you mean to me.”

You can also simply call someone you love – your spouse, a best friend, or anyone else close and important to you – and tell them how happy you are that they’re in your life. Try to do more of these types of acts every week or month, and cut down on other activities to do so if necessary. Remember that habits and frequency of actions play HUGE roles in elevating happiness.

Spike Milligan once said, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.”

So, even if you’ve saved well, you’ve had a successful career or grown a business you’re proud of, always keep in mind that we could all use a little more happiness in our lives… so go out there and get it!

Even if you’re immensely happy, but not so sure about your financial future – or even if you just want a second opinion on your retirement plan and investment portfolio, please reach out to us! You can respond to this message, or CLICK HERE to take the first steps to answer a few questions and get an intro call set up on our calendar.

‘till next time!


Taking Advantage of Credit Card Points in a Post-Pandemic World